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Seminary Girls (1897)

 |  Short, Comedy  |  April 1897 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 560 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 2 critic

"A number of young ladies, in their night robes, are having a frolic, and are interrupted by a teacher. One girl makes herself *very* conspicuous by crawling under a bed."

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Storyline

Several young women are having a friendly pillow fight in a dormitory room. Just as the battle gets particularly lively, a teacher enters and breaks it up. With the arrival of an authority figure, the young women scatter, hoping to avoid discipline. Written by Snow Leopard

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April 1897 (USA)  »

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Scene in a Seminary  »

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Humor and voyeurism
23 March 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

In this 30-second long Edison Company short, six "seminary girls" are arranged in depth layers in a dorm room with beds and an end table. They engage in a pillow fight. About two-thirds of the way through, the ruckus causes their matron to enter and break up the fun.

While the extent to which the action in this short is choreographed is questionable, it nevertheless achieves aesthetic worth and rewards repeated viewings via its complexity, abstractness and humor. Like most Edison shorts of the era, Seminary Girls was shot entirely inside Edison's "Black Maria" studio, which can still be seen at the Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey.

The overall effect of the motion is oddly similar to Edison's Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894), but at the same time, it has the layered depth-of-frame and contrapuntal action of The Barber Shop (1894). It also provides a somewhat taboo, voyeuristic peek at a group of women frolicking in their nightgowns, that voyeurism being one of the cultural functions of the Kinetoscope that contributed to its popularity. Of course Seminary Girls was more titillating than other shorts engaging in that function, like The Cock Fight (1894), but it is no less (for males, at least) a surrogate peek at a forbidden world.

This is one of the earlier Edison shorts with humor that translates well to modern sensibilities. It's quite funny to see the girls attack the matron with a pillow and a blanket, and to watch the matron try to pull out one of the girls from beneath a bed, where she's trying to hide.


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