“Finally, it is accomplished! Since yesterday, the 15th August, we’re there. The day before yesterday we gave our first show. On that evening, dedicated to the press, we had over 1500 guests – so many that we didn’t know where to put them. The applause and cheers make us hope for a great success. Everyone was shouting: Muy bonito! How wonderful!” (letter from Gabriel Veyre to his mother, Mexico City, 16th August 1896).
Since 1896, the Lumière brothers had hired cameramen to promote their new invention around the world. The 25-year-old Gabriel Veyre had just obtained a diploma in pharmacy in Lyon and needed to earn money as soon as possible to support his siblings and widowed mother. His knowledge of chemistry, interest in electricity and passion for photography made him an ideal candidate.
With the typical energy of the pioneers, he spent four years travelling the world with his Cinématographe, shooting views and organising screenings in all the capitals to extraordinary success. The trip took him above all to Latin America: Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela. But he fell sick in Caracas and had to return to France.
The break in Lyon was short-lived. The Lumière brothers entrusted the young operator with a new mission that took him to the Orient. In July 1898 he set sail for Canada in order to reach Japan, then China and Indochina. In Hanoi the general governor Paul Soumer commissioned an important film reportage on the country to show at the Universal Fair, which was inaugurated in Paris in 1900. He shot over 500 views!
Back in France, Gabriel Veyre considered opening a pharmacy, but destiny had other plans for him. The sultan of Morocco was looking for someone to teach him photography and film. “Why not me? It was a great opportunity to discover a new country, more mysterious and closed than any of those I had been to”. Gabriel Veyre arrived at the palace in Marrakech in March 1901 for a mission that was to have taken six months. But he was to remain in Morocco for the rest of his life.
The Lumière catalogue includes over 70 films by Gabriel Veyre, including several masterpieces like Le Village de Namo (n. 1296), shot in Vietnam, or Duel au pistolet (n. 35), shot in Mexico.
This is the third and final full-length film directed by García Moreno in Orizaba, Veracruz. In April 1927, the magazine “Alborada” published that the filming would wrap on May 13, and it was released on the 27th of that same month, in Teatro Llave. The film casually portrays the underworld of drug addiction through the adventures of hooded bandits, depraved drug addicts, and a pipe-smoking detective who aspires to be like dime novel private investigator Nick Carter. It is an entertaining film full of incidents where the actors’ spontaneity is remarkable. The way the film is narrated as well as the camera movements demonstrate García Moreno’s directorial mastery, both of the language of cinema as well as of the North American technology. There is probably no other movie in the history of Mexican cinema that addresses the issue of drug addiction so directly.
With businessmen from Orizaba City, Garcia Moreno established a film company called Cinematographic Cultural Center, it was established in the city of Orizaba. The company had a film studio and a laboratory. There were filmed several documentaries, comic shorts and three fulllength films: Misterio (1926); El tren fantasma (1926) and El puño de hierro. But probably the hard economic situation in the state of Veracruz ended with the expectations of the film company and in November of 1927 their doors closed permanently. Ninety percent of Mexican silent cinema production from 1896 to 1931 is lost. This is largely due to the lack of awareness of the historical value of the films; in their day, they were considered to be merchandise to be projected as much as possible. Just a few of these film have survived, some of them directed by Moreno. El tren fantasma (1926) and El puño de hierro were among them. When the company Centro Cultural Cinematográfico, directed by García Moreno, went bankrupt, he left the films to Mr. William Mayer, the company’s treasurer. There were around eight cans, which the Mayers kept and moved from Orizaba to Mexico City. Thanks to a daring 15-year old boy who hid the films between the shelves, the films were saved from being turned into envelope glue. This young boy, Aurelio de los Reyes, would become a film historian who finally delivered the cans to Filmoteca UNAM.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Gabriel García Moreno. F.: Manuel Carrillo, Juan D. Vasallo. Int.: Carlos Villatoro (Antonio, ‘el Murciélago’), Lupita Bonilla (Esther, Elsa), Manuel de los Ríos (Dr. Anselmo Ortiz, ‘el Tieso’), Octavio Valencia (Carlos), Hortensia Valencia (Laura), Manuel Carrillo (Perico), Guillermo Pacheco (Juanito), Ignacio Ojeda (El Buitre), Rafael Ojeda. Prod.: Centro Cultural Cinematográfico de Orizaba. DCP. Bn.
EXERCICE À LA BAÏONNETTE
LE PRÉSIDENT EN PROMENADE
MARCHÉ INDIEN SUR LE CANAL DE LA VIGA
DÉFILÉ DE JEUNES FILLES AU LYCÉE
TRANSPORT DE LA CLOCHE DE L’INDÉPENDANCE
BAIGNADE DE CHEVAUX
LASSAGE DES BOEUFS POUR LE LABOUR
BAL ESPAGNOL DANS LA RUE
If you like this, we suggest:
La prima séance del 28 dicembre 1895 / CASQUE D’OR
La prima séance del 28 dicembre 1895 / CASQUE D’OR
Commento di Thierry Frémaux
Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese
Karpo Godina and Ivan Nedoh (Slovenska Kinoteka)
Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni
Jeanne Pommeau (Národní Filmový Archiv)