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Arab Cortege, Geneva (1896)
"Cortège arabe" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, Short  |  29 June 1898 (USA)
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A stationary camera looks across a busy corner toward a store front marked "The Divan." The words "des fees" are beneath. A cortege of Arabs, about 20 persons in the party, walk past; the ... See full summary »

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A stationary camera looks across a busy corner toward a store front marked "The Divan." The words "des fees" are beneath. A cortege of Arabs, about 20 persons in the party, walk past; the dignitaries are in front, attended by men with horns and drums. Coming in the other direction are local Swiss, who pay little attention, and a group of native-garbed Africans. The dozen or so well-dressed denizens of Geneva who are sitting on the steps of the Divan take it all in. Written by <>

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Documentary | Short


Not Rated



Release Date:

29 June 1898 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arab Cortege, Geneva  »

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Filmed on the cinematographe, an invention of Louis Lumiere, which focused on projecting images. It also tripled as a camera, printer and projection device. See more »

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Squeezes Quite A Bit Into One Setting
24 August 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Few movies of the 1890s captured or attempted to capture as much in one shot and one setting as this Lumière feature tries to do. It does not work as well as their finest and best-known films did, although it does reflect some of the usual strengths that you expect from the Lumière features.

The "Arab cortège" of the title is only one of many things going on in this bustling Geneva street scene. The street is filled with numerous others, who themselves appear to be from a variety of backgrounds, plus a number of well-dressed onlookers who are watching everything else. There is also a building in the background that features a rather obscure sign, and it would be interesting to know just what kind of building it was.

A similar kind of complicated, cosmopolitan scene was captured beautifully in Lumière's "Leaving Jerusalem By Railway". This one is not up to that standard. In part, the jumbled picture that it catches is a result of the vantage point of the camera, which makes it hard to distinguish any part of the action from the rest of it. It also seems very likely that at least some of the action was unplanned, and whatever shot the camera crew had intended may have been disrupted by natural activity in the street.

It's still an interesting scene - as another commentator has mentioned, who would have expected Geneva in the 1890s to look like this? And it does manage to capture quite a bit of action in a restricted and stationary camera field. That it does not really seem very good compared to other Lumière features probably speaks to their own high standards, and possibly to the role of the unexpected in early film-making.

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