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Poultry-Yard (1896)

Basse-cour (original title)
Two girls do one of their chores. Standing alongside a tree-lined farmhouse, two children who are about ten and four years old toss grain to a flock of about 50 domesticated ducks. A woman ... See full summary »
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Storyline

Two girls do one of their chores. Standing alongside a tree-lined farmhouse, two children who are about ten and four years old toss grain to a flock of about 50 domesticated ducks. A woman watches them briefly and then moves on. The older girl has her grain in a bucket, the younger one's grain is in her apron. The children stay in one spot, as does the camera; it's the ducks that move around. Chickens are in the background; only one braves the ducks' territory. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Short | Documentary

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Details

Country:

France

Release Date:

1896 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Poultry-Yard See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lumière See more »
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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Silent
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Featured in Lumiere's First Picture Shows (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not very successful aesthetically, but interesting for extra-filmic reasons
9 April 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

This is an approximately 45-second long Lumiere Brothers actuality (Lumiere No. 14) showing two girls, one about five years old, one about ten, feeding ducks. An older woman walks by in the background, exiting the frame on the right within 15 seconds.

Early shorts of bird feeding on farms were popular. The Edison Company did a "remake" of this film entitled Feeding the Doves, also from 1896, and eventually both the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company and the International Film Company made similar films. Removed from these films in time as we are, it's perhaps difficult to say why such a seemingly mundane movie would be popular or attractive enough to bother emulating. This film isn't particularly appealing aesthetically in terms of visual composition, and there isn't much going on in terms of action.

However, when you put the film in historical-cultural context, it might make a bit more sense. The Industrial Revolution had hit western countries hard in the mid 19th Century. By the end of the 19th Century, profound cultural changes had taken effect. There were mass migrations from the agricultural "hinterlands" to urban environments. But there were still plenty of people alive who could remember what things were like prior to the impact of the Industrial Revolution. So films like Poultry-Yard were probably attractive for symbolizing the "good old days", they were tokens of a more bucolic, agrarian, (extended) familial way of life.

Unfortunately, in the early 21st Century, it's difficult for a film such as this to have the same impact on anyone. Removed from its particular cultural milieu, it doesn't even have much historical significance on its own. We mostly notice its relative blandness, making this one of the less successful Lumiere Brothers films at this point in time.


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