Synopsis for
Tunneling the Channel (1907) More at IMDbPro »Le tunnel sous La Manche ou Le cauchemar franco-anglais (original title)

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SCENE I. At the Elyse Palace: The first scene is a sumptuous setting representing some state rooms of the beautiful residence in Paris of the President of France. King Edward of England and President Fallires are sitting at a table playing cards and engaged in an animated conversation over the proposition of digging the much discussed, tunnel under the Channel between Dover and Calais. It is late in the evening. Before taking leave of one another, the President of France orders a bottle of wine. After their drinks, the two rulers retire, each to his bedroom. SCENE II. The Chamber of President Fallires: The view shows the bedroom of the President and that of King Edward, adjoining one another. Fallires, after bidding his royal guest good-night, prepares to make ready for bed. An imposing valet draws a curtain before the bed, and when he opens it again, the ruler of the French republic is seen comfortably stretched out on his gorgeous couch. SCENE III. The Room of King Edward: At the same time that the preceding scene is being enacted, King Edward is also preparing for rest. His valet folds up the screen, and we behold the portly bon vivant of England ensconced in a state bed supported with a heavy canopy. SCENE IV. Good-night! Fallires and Edward put on their nightcaps simultaneously, and fall back upon their pillows. Soon they are both in the land of dreams. SCENE V. The Dream: There is immediately projected upon the screen a cross section of the English Channel at Dover and Calais, such as engineers use in drawing plans of tunnels. Between the two towns there is the water, and below are shown the various strata of rock and clay formation quite true to scale. The surface of the water is choppy, and constantly agitated in a most natural manner. Fish and submarines move back and forth; boats and steamers ply along above, while in the air, balloons, airships, aeroplanes, and flying machines are constantly appearing. SCENE VI. Calais and Dover: Upon the cliffs on either side of the Channel, King Edward and President Fallires appear, exaggerated in size. They bow and smile, and stretch forth their hands in the act of shaking, but the distance is too great for their hands to reach across the sea. They continue their pantomime, and finally one arm of each is seen to abnormally lengthen out until their arms are locked in a hearty grasp. Their hands release their grasp and their arms resume their normal size. SCENE VII. The Rulers at Work: Each ruler then seizes an enormous corkscrew, plants the point in the earth, and begins to bore. This sort of work is too hard for hands unaccustomed to toil, and they soon desist from their labors. SCENE VIII. France and England: Two workmen immediately relieve the rulers by grabbing the corkscrews. They execute their work vigorously. SCENE IX. The Tunnel; English Side: The scene becomes dim for a moment, and then we are shown a cross section of the ground under the Channel with the tunnel borers at work. The English half is almost completed. There are the plates all riveted into place. Some sand-hogs are drilling their last holes prior to the junction of the tube with that of the French side. Water is leaking here and there through rifts in the rock, while laborers are piling up into small cars broken pieces of stone and dirt. At the top of the scene one may descry the bottom of the Channel strewn with wrecks among which fish are leisurely swimming about. SCENE X. Visit of the King: In order that the end of the excavations for the tunnel may be celebrated in a manner commensurate with the vastness and difficulty of the undertaking, the King, followed by his ministers, guards, and attendants, enters in robes of state. He is given an enormous pick with which to dig up the last dirt to be excavated. The pick is too big for him to wield, and he falls backward. His Majesty is raised, and is presented with a small silver hammer, which he uses in a burlesque way. The ceremonies over, a barrel of Scotch whiskey is rolled in, decorated with English and French flags. All imbibe and smile graciously. SCENE XI. The French Side of the Tunnel: This view is similar to that of the English side. SCENE XII. The Electric Drills: Huge drills are seen in motion. The cranks, wheels, and pistons are thoroughly realistic. SCENE XIII. Visit of the President: All is bustle. Drills in motion, workmen rushing hither and thither, water dripping from the soil above; a vivid picture is this scene. Presently the tunnel is cleared, and President Fallires enters, followed by the engineers and bosses of the undertaking. He compliments everybody, and then his valet comes forward with a dress-suit case. The President takes out of it some decorations and confers them upon all present. There is one too many. Not knowing, what to do with this, he pins it upon the coat of his valet, a tall, awkward, and very humorous servant. The President's best vintage is wheeled in; and after refreshments, all go away. SCENE XIV. The Point of Junction: The next view shows the thin partition of rock which separates both sides of the tunnel. Men are busy on both the English and the French bores. They put in their final charges of dynamite and set them off. SCENE XV. The Explosion: After the smoke has cleared away, the French and English workmen look through the hole made by the blast. A junction has at last been effected. SCENE XVI. Enthusiasm! The arduous task is about done. All enter into general merriment. Dancing, drinking, and congratulations are in order. SCENE XVII. The First Train: This view shows the tunnel completed. Presently a train moves slowly through from the French side to the English. It bears President Fallires and other important personages to England. The train moves without a hitch. Everybody is excited; even the fish in the water above seem to know what is going on below. SCENE XVIII. The Train at Dover: As the train pulls into the station, dignitaries and many sightseers are present to do honor to the, occasion. After a brief stay, all the passengers again go on board. With hearty shouts of joy, the crowd hails the train as it continues its journey to London. SCENE XIX. Charing Cross Station, London: This view shows the entrance to the Charing Cross Station at London. Royal guards are posted on either side of the doorway. The crowd here is large, for the coming of the presidential train from France direct has been widely heralded. SCENE XX. The Royal Cortege: President Fallires alights. Immediately King Edward, with mantle of state, attended by state functionaries, advances to meet his guest. The two rulers embrace heartily and then depart arm in arm. Lesser personages follow in the order of precedence. SCENE XXI. The Salvation Army: Among the retinue is a body of delegates of female members of the Salvation Army. Some are fat; some are old. They go through some ludicrous military manoeuvres as they close up the rear of the procession. SCENE XXII. The Outrider Troude and Lord Mayor's Coachman: After the bootblacks and the rabble have gone out of the scene, two coachmen, one from each suite, lock arms and follow after their exalted bosses with as much pomposity as the rulers themselves. SCENE XXIII. The End of the Dream: Once more a cross section of the now-famous tunnel is shown. Lo, two trains are seen approaching one another from opposite directions. An exciting episode is bound to follow. SCENE XXIV. Collision! Right in the middle of the tunnel, with water overhead and the main land some miles away, the two trains loaded with passengers, and rushing ahead at a terrific speed, come together. SCENE XXV. The Catastrophe: The locomotives are smashed to pieces, steam escapes in all directions, the wounded and dead are scattered among the fragments of the cars. But their agony is not for long. The force of the collision drove the engines with such power against the sides of the tunnel that the plates are broken. The water from above comes pouring in and completely fills the tunnel. SCENE XXVI. The Awakening: The scene is changed to that in which King Edward and President Fallires retired for the night. We behold them sleeping in bed. Suddenly the frame holding the lining of the canopy falls, one corner of which hits King Edward on the nose and quickly awakens him. Then we see the posts of President Fallires' bed topple over and bury him with hangings. SCENE XXVII. Exchange of Impressions: President Fallires is rescued by his valet He visits the adjoining room occupied by the King and there the two relate their dreams. While they are both still in their dressing-gowns, a servant announces a gentleman who is exceedingly anxious to see the President SCENE XXVIII. The Engineer with the Plan of the Tunnel: It is the engineer who has with him his drawings for the projected tunnel. As he insists upon being admitted, the President orders him to be shown in. SCENE XXIX. Get Out! The latter immediately unrolls a large chart and at the sight of it the rulers forcibly eject him, for they have already had enough of tunnel between England and France. SCENE XXX. Breakfast is in Order: The engineer, terrified at the uncordiality of his reception, flees through the rooms of the palace to the door to the street. The King and the President prepare for breakfast. -- The Moving Picture World, July 27, 1907


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