Int.: Max Linder; Prod.: Pathé; 35mm. L.: 89 M. D.: 5′ A 16 F/S. Bn.
A cinema show of 1907: images are projected on to the screen, a dozen or more different scènes one after the other. The projected images show all kinds of spaces and different levels of realism. Space and reality are changeable, malleable at will. A plethora of possibilities is exploited. Frame and reframing, pan, cross-cutting, hors-champs, raccord-dans-l’axe, tableau, double exposure, deep staging. A man in a café speaks on the phone to his dog in the telegraph office. A pert girl film magician makes people appear out of the depths of a cupboard, then looks out of the frame at us, into the depth of the auditorium. A dead father appears via double exposure, but only we, the real viewers, can see him in the film frame – the fictional bereaved family do not (and neither do the actors playing them on the set). The wife of the blacksmith is nervous of the room behind the door, outside the film frame. In the next shot that room is in frame and she is in the room. When Max Linder plays a drunk in the music hall (a scène comique), it is completely different from when music hall artist Martin Martens plays a drunk (a phono-scène). Tommy Burns and Bill Squires were boxing exactly a hundred years ago, so we can probably call the recording of these two real male bodies a documentary. But is the Méliès film of the two disembodied heavenly bodies – what they are getting up to we can only imagine – less real, less documentary?
Where did the idea actually come from, that the cinema (and especially French cinema) was “filmed theatre” before Griffith? From the music hall acts? From the films d’arts, which started to appear in 1908? 1907 was a magic moment, the cinema having so many balls in the air at the same time.