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The Sick Kitten (1903)

A girl gives a spoonful of medicine to a kitten.
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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 before Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

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Short | Comedy | Family

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Release Date:

1903 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Little Doctor and the Sick Kitten  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The girl's dress is different during the close-up. See more »

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User Reviews

A Scene in Three Shots
8 March 2008 | by See all my reviews

This is George Albert Smith's remake of his own film "The Little Doctors" (1901), which probably had its negatives worn out due to reprints--hence it being remade. The original film is probably lost forever. These two pictures must have been quite popular in their day. Smith essentially introduced the close-up to motion pictures in 1900 with "As Seen Through a Telescope" and "Grandma's Reading Glass", enhancing upon the medium close-up that had been quite popular since the Edison Company's "The Kiss" (1896). In Smith's two aforementioned films from 1900, the close-ups are point-of-view shots, with a mask around the camera lens to create circular vignettes. In "As Seen Through a Telescope", a man with a telescope looks at something, then the film cuts to a close-up of what he's looking at through the perspective of the telescope.

"Sick Kitten" contains a similar one scene, three-shot structure. There's a long shot, or establishing shot, followed by a close-up and the end takes us back to the original long shot position. The close-up in this film, however, doesn't involve camera masking or any character's point of view. It's a standard (as we know it today) close-up. It's also a match on action shot. It's seamlessly done and creates a good continuity. The same year, Edwin S. Porter's "The Gay Shoe Clerk", which is a reworking of "As Seen Through a Telescope", used a similar three-shot continuity: two establishing shots with a close-up inserted in the middle. Smith took this idea further within the same year in what is probably his most advanced surviving film, "Mary Jane's Mishap". Films with multiple shots were nothing new by 1903, but the scene dissection on display in these films by Smith were quite rare. For comparison, the most popular film from 1903, "The Great Train Robbery", has multiple shots, but they are all scenes in themselves. Oh, "Sick Kitten" doesn't have much of a story itself--just a couple of kids feeding a sick kitten. The cut to the close-up occurs during the feeding. Additionally, the children demonstrate that they were very aware that they were being filmed; the boy bows and holds his hat at the end.


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