Prod.: Pathé 35mm. L.: 220 m. D.: 12′ a 16 f/s. Col
Aeroplane Gliding– four times, the aeroplane glides down into a meadow landscape full of fruit trees and is shoved uphill again. Just like when we went sledding as children, on the little snowy slope behind the house – sliding down and tramping up again. Sea Voyage, on the foam of the high sea, the bow of the ship rises and falls, and we gaze down on the deck for quite some time, gripped by a sense of travel, a feeling of freshness. In a laconic rhythm, the drama of Nuit de Noel shows us one image after the other, images that make no expressive fuss, in fact, no fuss at all, images of a direct beauty and realness. We watch; the fire glows; they dance; the horse-drawn cart flips over and plunges over the cliffs.
Film, with its protean nature, has the potential for different identities and perceptual forms. They can apparently be mutually exclusive; people conditioned by contemporary cinema or even that of the 1920s are often baffled by the films of 1908; they do not see what there is to be seen.
The pleasure of gazing upon undisguised beauty: the sparkling water, a gigantic moving snake, in all its slow, unfamiliar and fascinating motion, a wood-pile, horse-drawn carriages; it is sufficient for a film to allow beauty to emerge (the complete quotation is ‘To allow beauty to emerge from what is as yet imperfect’, which is Zeami Motokiyo’s definition of one of the nine levels of Noh theatre, the ‘art of unselfconscious beauty’).
And they, the spectators of 1908, watch just as we do, from the other side of the animal’s cage and the guard-rail. So we have understood correctly after all.
Another characteristic of this cinema is that quite simple films, virtually without content, were still possible. Une famille nombreuse is merely a choreography of mass; other films are based on simple confusions – between a pig and a baby or a bride’s bouquet and a funeral wreath. That is sufficient for a film.
The mother is dead, the father drinks, the oldest girl goes out to work and raises her younger siblings. That she cannot forgive her repentant father at first is sufficient; The Little Mother is an affecting film.