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Childish Quarrel (1896)

Querelle enfantine (original title)
"Two babies are shown seated in high chairs and apparently enjoying themselves. Suddenly one snatches a toy from the other, and they indulge in hair-pulling."

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Two babies are seated right next to each other, with trays in front of them holding toys and other objects. One baby reaches over to take something from the other's tray, and then starts to hit the other baby. The first baby persists in these efforts even when the other starts to cry. Written by Snow Leopard

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Documentary | Short

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28 June 1896 (Finland)  »

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Childish Quarrel  »

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Edited into Landmarks of Early Film (1997) See more »

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The composed view
10 October 2015 | by (France) – See all my reviews

Snow Leopard is entirely right in emphasising the high quality of these early Lumière films and their continuing interest today. There is certainly no "pointing of the camera" at anything and everything. Quite the opposite. The films are quite obviously carefully planned and organised.

Although it is true that many of these films made by Louis Lumière himself have a "home movies" element; the two little girls are cousins, the daughters in one case of Louis himself, in the other of his brother Auguste, they are not "documentaries". They are not even in any meaningful sense "actualities" (this term is in any case a false one, a mistranslation of the French "actualités" which means newsreel films). They are "composed views" and develop tropes that are at the origin both of the later documentary and of the narrative film. This is a good example for there is a clear effort to give the film a narrative feel.

It was a popular film. The first know showing was in London on the 7th March 1896, just after the Lumière arrival there at the Empire Theatre and it was almost immediately copied by the Lumière's British rival, R. W. Paul, in a film called The Twins' Tea-party (clearly a staged film and neither home-movie nor "actuality"). Unlike the genuine actuality, the news-films (they were actually called "topicalities" in English), which were reported limited to a particular time and place and made for quite different purposes, the "composed view" could always be copied and remade in this way.

Many of the Lumière composed views (think of the workers exiting from a factory or the arrival of a train in a station) became classic visual tropes that reappear constantly as elements of films throughout the history of cinema.


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