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Cock Fight, No. 2 (1894)

| Short
Two gamecocks are fighting inside a wire cage, while two spectators look on in the background. The two men agree to make a bet on the outcome. One of them shows his money to the other, who is commenting on the fight.

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A stationary camera observes two fighting cocks on a raised platform, with chicken wire behind them. On the far side of the chicken wire are two men, on either side of the frame. We see just the head of the man on our left and the head and chest of the man on our right, who is clearly in charge. Money changes hands twice as the cocks fight. Feathers fly. The man on our right points and shakes his finger. Both cocks are still standing when the film ends. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Of Some Interest As A Historical Example
8 December 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This brief footage is primarily of interest as part of the early history of movie-making, and in particular of the Edison Company's early practices. The footage itself will strike different viewers today in different ways; some will merely find it a curio, while to others it will be understandably unsettling to see the controversial practice of cockfighting on film. Either way, it is an indication of the kinds of material to be seen in the earliest movies, and it also serves as an example of the ways that the earliest film-makers developed their techniques.

The earliest movies contained an extraordinary variety of material, but in particular, it was far from uncommon to see shocking, risqué, or even illegal activities taking place in films made in the 1890s. This surviving footage of a cockfight is actually the second such picture that the Edison Company filmed in 1894. The negatives of the first one wore out quickly, and this remake was created in order to accommodate the demand for such features. (This is sometimes viewed today under the title of the original movie, "The Cock Fight", but it is actually the remake "Cock Fight No. 2" that survives.)

Besides providing evidence for the tastes of the early movie audiences, and for the willingness of at least some studios to satisfy those tastes, this feature also shows how quickly the earliest studios picked up on basic techniques. According to film historian Charles Musser (in his notes to the Kino DVD collection of Edison films), the original lacked the spectators in the background, who add an entirely new dimension to the action. The original also was apparently filmed against a dark background, as were most of the earliest Edison features, whereas the remake used a white background, which sets off the action much more effectively.


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