First Films – Leaving Workers and The Gardener
The first film showed the workers leaving the Lumiere’s factory in Lyon. In fact this film has many versions shot in the same year at different times. The first version was short in the 19th of March 1895, roughly between 11 and 3pm. As a tribute to these pioneers back in 1996 a documentary was released by The Lumiere Brother’s Association. The Documentary named ‘The Lumiere Brothers First Film’ was edited by Thierry Fremaux of the Institute of Lumeire and Archival of Films. With French director Bertrand Tavernier’s narration the documentary explores the early films of the brother duo.
In his narration, Tavernier notes the day the first film was shot as the date when the history of invention stopped and the history of film making began.
You might come across the different versions of this first film with the same title. However one could observe minor differences between each version, the crossing dogs and bicyclers for instance. The film shows the workers, mostly French women sporting their traditional long shirts, leaving the factory happily, perhaps after their shifts. Most of them seem to be unaware of the fact that they are being filmed. Hence it looks natural. Yet we could notice a woman who crosses the stationary camera frame from left to right, seem to be aware of the happenings, for she briefly looks straight to the camera and spares a giggle.
Each of the available versions of the films could have been shot in short intervals one could notice the change in attires worn by the women, hinting on the seasonal change that had occurred between the filming of the versions. Thus the working class inadvertently became the first characters of the first film ever screened to the public.
After the first film comes the second, ‘The Gardener’ aka ‘The Sprinkler Sprinkled’. This is the first film comedy in the history of films. In the film François Clerc stared as the Gardener and Benoît Duval as the boy. The plot was so simple that it was a practical joke showing an irritated gardener over his troubled hose pipe. Shortly he finds out the problem was caused by the boy. The comedy as involved mainly of physical actions evoked laughter among the audience instantly.
This film saw its first film poster in history. The Gardener was an instant hit for it could be understood by anyone with ease. This success invited many duplicated versions of the original. In fact the Lumieres themselves had to remake it for the popularity it had gathered. It was a time, when cinema was in infancy so was the copyright laws protecting the original makers to check the duplications. Hence many remakes of the film were filmed and shown both in France and in US.
While most of the viewers and critics considered the film as a comedy, in another point of view it is considered by some as a comedy film with an element of suspense embedded in it. It could in a way be called a suspense film as well. The veteran king of suspense Alfred Hitchcock once commented on the element of suspense that the film holds in developing the curiosity in the viewer’s mind. He said , “there is no terror in the bang, but the suspense lies in the anticipation of it”.