Prod.: Pathé; 35mm. L.: 130 M. D.: 7′ A 16 F/S. Col.
Société Pathé Frères dominated the market in 1907 by such a margin that it did not even compete with rivals such as Gaumont, Eclipse and Vitagraph – it just went on increasing its lead. We have figures documenting Pathé’s incredible annual increase in turnover, profit (+521% from 1905 to 1908) and length and quantity of films as well as figures demonstrating the shift in significance of the various genres. In 1907, scènes dramatiques already totalled 22.5% of annual production.
We do not find all the scènes comiques of 1907 very comic, but sometimes we really have to laugh. Babies fly through the air like footballs; furniture is enthusiastically demolished; Little Tich shoots a coquettish look from his old man’s face out to us: the mechanism of the comic effects still functions impeccably a hundred years later. The scènes d’arts et d’industries, a new genre in 1907, afford us a glimpse of a pre-industrial world of work, and we succumb willingly to the magic of time travel. And how about the scènes dramatiques, the hit genre of 1907? They do not touch us immediately, they do not offer what we are looking for: we do not feel empathy with fictional individuai here. Their mechanisms do not work anymore: plots dealing in stereotypes (the orphan, the beggar, the gipsy) and a repertoire of universal human concerns such as guilt and forgiveness, revenge and regret, industriousness and magnanimità Many are adventure tales for children, with faithful dogs and dangerous robbers and policemen pursuing them. However, what does reach us time and again is the visual impact of the Pathé scènes dramatiques, their suberb pictorial style. With an unfailing sense of beauty, their exterior shots transform the natural scenery into sophisticated compositions. They relate in their graphic effect to art nouveau and the painting style of the period.
The Jéròme Seydoux – Pathé Foundation
The Jéròme Seydoux – Pathé Foundation was established to safeguard and protect the cultural legacy linked to Pathé and the cinematographic work that it was a part of. It is a research center for the history of cinema as seen through the history of Pathé.
Created in 1896 and the first worldwide cinematographic industria! group until the 1914-1918 war, Pathé has always held an important role. Over the course of its long history, Pathé put together an important collection of posters, photos, cameras and projectors, promotional materials and documents (contracts, correspondence, social, administrative and financial documents…). This collection sheds a precious light on both the history of cinema and that of a 20th century company.
The Jéròme Seydoux – Pathé Foundation enlarges and promotes this collection and makes it available to researchers, students, historians and the general public in various ways: in its spaces, through exhibitions, conferences, publications and participation in university student activities.
Stéphanie Salmon, director of the historical collections