Démolition d'un mur (1896) Poster

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A Resourceful Classic of Early Cinema
Snow Leopard10 March 2005
One of the classics of the earliest years of cinema, this footage of the "Demolition of a Wall" shows the resourcefulness of the Lumière brothers in several ways. It's also still interesting to watch, especially with the popular trick shot added to it.

The Lumières resourcefully took advantage of some work going on in their own factory, by filming this actual removal of an unused wall on the grounds. As with so many of his features, Louis Lumière shows his knack for sensing material that will be interesting to watch, and that will also demonstrate the capabilities of his invention. Seeing a structure being methodically dismantled can often have an unaccountable but definite hold on one's attention, and indeed it is surprisingly interesting to see how the job is done here.

To add to that, Lumière had the imaginative idea for the projection trick that is usually shown after the straightforward footage. It works quite well, and it is one of many examples of the kind of creativity and resourcefulness that Lumière and other cinema pioneers possessed.
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6/10
Walls fall and rebuild themselves
jhaugh28 February 2003
In 1896 the projectionists could completely disregard the wishes of the cameraman and crank a film faster or slower than it was shot. This could produce an effect not intended by the filmmaker. In this case, however, the film is cranked through the projector at normal speed (16 frames-per-second) and we see four men demolishing a ten-foot masonry wall with sledge hammers, picks, and an interesting device that seems to be a hand-cranked ram used to facilitate the toppling of the wall. Having reached the end of the film; the projectionist starts cranking in reverse, at a slightly faster speed, and the wall arises from the rubble (like a phoenix from the ashes) to resume its former place.
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Historically interesting in regards the developmental work of Lumière but that's about the lot
bob the moo3 March 2008
I watched this film on a DVD that was rammed with short films from the period. I didn't watch all of them as the main problem with these type of things that their value is more in their historical novelty value rather than entertainment. So to watch them you do need to be put in the correct context so that you can keep this in mind and not watch it with modern eyes. With the Primitives & Pioneers DVD collection though you get nothing to help you out, literally the films are played one after the other (the main menu option is "play all") for several hours. With this it is hard to understand their relevance and as an educational tool it falls down as it leaves the viewer to fend for themselves, which I'm sure is fine for some viewers but certainly not the majority. What it means is that the DVD saves you searching the web for the films individually by putting them all in one place – but that's about it.

Anyway onto this film which is an early action scene wherein, as you may already know if you have some basic French – a wall is demolished. I do like early silent films that have these descriptive titles and it would be useful to have it today – for example Transformers could have been "big CGI things hitting one another for reasons you'll not care about" and so on. So this is what it does and it is interesting to see the absence of EHS here as the wall is essentially just pushed over. Once it has fallen the film plays backwards to show the wall being recreated. It is a simple effect that offers little to the modern viewer but I imagine that it made a bit of a stir when it happened to audiences in the day.

Otherwise though, it is so-so film to watch because walls falling down are not that interesting, if they were we would have summer blockbusters about such events (well I suppose we do but it is all about scale). Historically interesting in regards the developmental work of Lumière but that's about the lot.
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8/10
A very symbolic demolition of a wall...
jluis198416 May 2007
After the debut of the Cinématographe in 1895, its creators, Auguste and Louis Lumière, started to make more movies to supply the audiences' demand of more of those amazing moving images that were projected on the big screens during their shows. The brothers' invention had been a success, but they thought that it was only the initial impact of moving images displayed on a screen what made the Cinématographe so popular, so their movies focused on the idea of showing as much movement on screen as possible. Soon common scenes of everyday life such as trains arriving and people working would be captured by the brothers' camera and transformed into "actuality films", early documentaries depicting the life and times of the late 19th Century. However, while watching a film they had just finished, Louis Lumière had an idea that literally, would demolish the established ideas about cinema.

As usual, it all started at the Lumière factory, where one day in 1896 a group of workers was gathered to help in the demolition of the some walls. Louis Lumière thought it would be a good idea to use their new invention to capture the moment and so "Démolition d'Un Mur" was made. As the title implies, the movie captures the complete scene of the demolition of one of the walls of the factory, taken down by the workers in a very careful way. Like Lumière imagined, the scene has a lot of movement and one could even say that the images of the destruction of the wall have some unnatural, haunting beauty in them. However, what makes "Démolition d'Un Mur" even more fascinating is the brilliant idea that Lumière had for the screening of this film. Completely understanding the properties of his invention, Lumière decided to run the movie's reel backwards after the ending, so the audience could see the illusion of the wall being magically rebuilt in front of their very eyes.

While quite creative inventors in their field (and "Démolition d'Un Mur" is certainly a testament of that), the Lumière brothers weren't exactly interested in the commercial possibilities of their invention, and in fact considered "without future". So while Edison's company was showing vaudeville artists and dancers in Dickson's Kinetoscope, the brothers focused their Cinématographe shorts in the same style of actuality films they were so fond of. Even when oddities like this movie or "L' Arroseur Arrosé" (argualy cinema's first comedy) showed them using their talents in different kind of movies, their would soon lose interest and kept making documentaries while focusing their attention to new inventions. Anyways, while probably it was never intended in that way "Démolition d'Un Mur" showed that cinema was more than captured scenes of real life, and with the wall, the limits of a new art-form were demolished. 8/10
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9/10
The first great film.
the red duchess5 September 2000
this can be considered the first great film. Whereas 'Sortie d'Usine' and 'Repas de Bebe' are interesting theoretically, for the ideas they provoke, and nostalgically, as the first films, for unwittingly embodying a period, a century, a sensibility long vanished, 'Demolition d'un mur' stands up on its own, offering genuine excitement.

A group of workers, instructed by a foreman, hack away at a wall until it falls down. This film is brilliant for a number of reasons. First of all, it is possibly the first act of self-reflexivity in the cinema, the foreman barking orders to his workers mirroring the director(s) organising his crew.

But this dream of order is thrillingly destroyed, and hierarchies abolished by a supreme act of violence. As the wall finally collapses, lumbering as Boris Karloff, a whirling storm of dust and chips swallows the scene, and the screen. The foreman, once the centre of power and order, is marginalised, pushed to the edge of the screen or off it entirely. The workers, at first mere servants, hands of the capitalist machine, become demented, and start hacking away at the wall's stump. This, a single, conservative, static set-up, overspills with energy, destruction, violence.

That the Lumieres were a little afraid of what they had done can be seen in the trick they used at screenings of projecting the finished film backwards, so that the wall would be restored, and the old order reasserted. This is a good trick - it is a visual, special-effect; it shows cinema's triumph over mortality and the fixed; it shows that cinema, for all its claims to realism and documentary objectivity, is essentially a fantastic medium.

But it also reassures the audience, negating the impact and implications of the scene, showing that destruction is not final, can be reversed. The revolution can be quelled. Cinema, once again, is used for conservative ends, but this time we can sense the hysteria, the sense of a medium going beyond the intentions of its makers. That irrepressible scene of whirling, all-consuming smoke was unexpected by the directors; it is a brief glimpse of the power of a cinema that is not controlled, a power rarely utilised; indeed rarely desired.

The film also works as a compelling ghost story, the image of that single bare wall, the ruins of a former construction, a building, a room; what happened to it? What is being destroyed to feed our taste for sensation?
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7/10
The demolition of a wall
rbverhoef1 March 2005
Even when you could not care less about what you see on screen, watching a single shot created by Louis and Auguste Lumière gives you a weird feeling. Knowing that the images are shot over a hundred years ago, knowing that their little films are so important for the cinema we have today, makes it very interesting.

In 'Démolition d'un Mur' we see a man ordering his workers to tear down a wall. It represents a lot of things, whether that is intended or not, and that makes this single shot even more interesting. For its historical value alone it is worth watching, but there is some real joy in watching this Lumière film.
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Démolition d'un mur (1896)
Michael_Elliott22 December 2016
Démolition d'un mur (1896)

This film from the Lumiere Brothers shows a couple men with picks as they try and breakdown a wall. There's also another man, I'm guessing the boss, standing over them and yelling. The wall eventually comes down and very close to hitting the boss as well. This actuality film is another very entertaining one from Lumiere and company. There's obviously nothing ground-breaking here but it's fun to watch simply because it captures a moment in time and gives you an idea of how people worked during this era. If you're a fan of these actuality movies then it's certainly worth watching.
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Notable for the reverse-motion
He_who_lurks14 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I've read about all of the reviews on this film and it appears that some people have only seen the film without the reverse-motion trick used at the end. I have indeed seen it with that effect and I must say it is slightly fascinating seeing the wall arise back up to take its stand once more. And considering that most Lumiere films featured everyday occurrences, for 1896 this is something rather fascinating. It is not everyday you see a wall collapse, and, if you were really pushing it, you could probably get away with calling this one a trick film.

Okay, so nowadays a wall falling over isn't too interesting. Much of this film is really just the workers chopping at the wall. The part where the wall crashes over is definitely the highlight (what else WOULD be??!!). And while not overly interesting, the reverse-motion makes it lots different from the other Lumiere features. The first action movie, maybe? Well, certainly more exciting then seeing a train arrive (for the time, anyway) , and a good documentation of an event.
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2/10
The wall must fall
Horst_In_Translation6 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Monsieur Lumière already knew it long before it was built. In this short film, he directs a couple hard-working craftsmen in the process of demolishing a wall. Directing in the truest sense of the work here, one Lumière directs behind the camera and the other instructs the workers on what to do, where to hit etc.

Maybe the roughness of the content is the reason that this film lacks the charm of most of Lumière's other work. At least to me. I'd really only recommend it to film buffs interested in the early years of cinema and curious about watching what may be considered one of the first action movies ever shot.
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9/10
Demolition of a Wall
jboothmillard23 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
From the Lumiére Bros. comes another one minute film with another pretty normal event of demolishing a wall (for whatever reason), but with a difference. I'm not sure if it shocked people to show a wall falling down and then suddenly going back up (reversing), but I can understand that this was quite a new concept, to reverse time. I think it is just like the Train Pulling Into a Station film, nothing much really happens, but it still intrigues and interests people, and it probably inspired filmmakers since to do similar things. Maybe this film inspired Christopher Nolan for the opening, and maybe entire editing of Memento. Very good!
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6/10
The Organizing genius of Capitalism
boblipton5 August 2002
Although those mired in an antiquated theoretical framework may mistake this movie as a Marxian commentary on the oppression of the free worker and the destruction of useful property that rightfully belongs to the proletariat, in actuality, it is no such thing, but a paean to the organizing genius of of capitalism. It is an answer to Marx,a throwing down of the gauntlet.

Some roustabouts are standing with sledgehammers and no idea of what to do: typical of the working class. At the command of the gang boss -- representing, as he does, the capitalist, who knows what he wants and will achieve it while paying his worker what the invisible hand of the economy will permit -- the workers, previously unmotivated, lift their hammers and destroy the wall.

The wall, the Marxian theoretician will have us believe, represents some useful function of society. The twisting of things to the service of propaganda is apparent. The wall represents evil, a separation among society. Only through work, directed by the capitalist, will walls be destroyed and all profit.

But there is more. The auteur retreats one step and runs the movie in reverse! At the command of capital, labor can make or unmake a wall. Clearly labor has no voice in the process. All direction comes from the capitalist.
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The wall falls down
kurtis_7515 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Super exciting, thrill ride. You never see the twist coming. A balls to the wall action flick. The narrative of the film is amazing and the substance of the plot is astounding. Spielberg has some competition. Certainly worthy of the top 250 I cried at the end the audience gave a standing ovation Every shot is carefully composed Pick it up on Bluray. First up lets take a look at the new promo photos featuring Ilana. She's the mysterious passenger of the Ajira flight the Oceanic 6 (or Oceanic 5 – Claire's baby, Aaron, didn't come back) used to get back to the Island in season 5. We don't really know anything about her except that she's working for Jacob and has some sort of history with the Island. Hell, we don't even know her last name! We first saw her as an innocent enough woman in a bar who hooked up with Sayid, and before we knew it she had him in handcuffs and was transporting him on the Ajira flight.
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10/10
An interesting documentary
user-945-91422414 March 2017
just right now, I read your words,i'm so glad to hear an voice about the early films. i 'm absolutely agree your thought! i also watched the other films about Lumière and Britishs' directors ,such as Robort.Paul,George Albert Smith. The early world film is so fascinating!
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