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A simple scene of two rather flamboyantly-dressed Edwardian children attempting to feed a spoonful of medicine to a sick kitten. The film is important for being one of the earliest films to cut to a close-up, then back again to the same medium shot as beforeWritten by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
This early film is mostly known for the fact that within the single scene in which the film takes place, the scene is broken down into 3 shots: a faraway shot, a closeup, and then the faraway shot again. The plot, simple as it is, was a perfect example to demonstrate this idea in order to pave the road for the films of today, and can then be considered an important landmark in film history. It appears to be an exact remake of Smith's earlier 1901 film "The Little Doctors", made because the original negative print was worn out from too many prints being made from it, hence this film was created as a substitute. "The Little Doctors" is now presumably lost. See more »
The girl's dress is different during the close-up. See more »
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.
Having seen Smith use new techniques with his last few films this one was a bit of a letdown at first to me. It shows two children giving medicine to a sick cat and that's it. However only after reflection did I realise what was worth noting about it and, again, it is not the material (although the cat is cute). No Smith does two things of importance herein. Firstly he gets natural performances from the children and the cat, clearing that old saying had not been coined in his day. More importantly, although the film is one scene, it is broken up with close-ups on the action edited together to give the impression that it is all one continual time frame. OK this is nothing new and indeed it is so ordinary now for so long that I didn't even notice that it was happening in the same way as we don't notice breathing until we think about it.
So not a brilliant film but yet again an example of Smith experimenting with methods and devices in his films. The material is weak otherwise with only the cute and natural performances being of merit.
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