Here’s an early French pioneer, first film 1896, who deserves more attention. Prolific short films; documentaries/ snapshots of life, comedies, dramas, adventures. She had a good eye, keen interest in travel, dance and different cultures (Spain, Romanies..), plenty of wit and her films have loads of charm.
And lots o’ racial stereotypes!
Such as…? Take her Danses Gitanes; there’s a little girl in there who should be defying the hatred of Romanies, the holocaust etc. Compare with the awful anti-Romany racism of Rescued by Rover, and so many films that have followed, up to the present. Well, i’ve only seen about 15-20 by Guy but any stereotyping in there is as nothing set against much of what went towards the foundations of cinema and the continued appalling racism in our supposedly advanced and more aware societies today
Such as Making an American Citizen. I did not say she was a bad film pioneer. It’s the same with a film like Birth of a Nation. It was racist then and still is today but I won’t argue the historical importance of either one of the films.
It is amusing that you would want to compare it to Rescued by Rover which was much more subtle in it’s image of the villain. Guy’s depiction of Eastern Europeans (could be Romany) is much more blatant. But again.. It was the early 20th century and without these pioneers we would have nothing to argue about or praise together today.
Yes, but it’s just that i haven’t noticed the same sort of racism in Guy’s work as in Birth of a Nation or some other pioneering efforts (well and many later films scattered throughout cinema history too)- maybe you’ve seen some by her that i haven’t. The one scene which concerned me in a film by her was a pig having its ear pulled, in an otherwise excellent chase involving a dog and string of sausages, if memory serves.
Ok thanks for putting me on to Making of an American Citizen, which i’ve only now got to see and i agree is a stereotype of the abusive Eastern European (well, foreign, unAmerican) bullying husband, with the downtrodden wife needing to be rescued by Americans (males) at every turn, they even manage to pop up in her own home. He’s finally put in his place by coercion and correction, becomes civilised. Hardly enlightened i agree- the gender come-uppance may have more appeal- but today the media coverage of say Afghanistan and Iran (at least in the UK and i presume the US) is no better. Far from it, we use these abusive and partriarchal ogres as justification for self-serving imperialist interventions, the mass of our populations falling for the propaganda. 9/11 and the Taliban mere excuses of course, for the real reasons, the gas pipeline and strategic military control. When the Taliban and Bin Laden were against the Soviets didn’t we support and arm them, and women’s rights go hang? And this state of affairs is unquestioningly accepted by so many “enlightened” intelligent commentators who would no doubt laugh at the Guy film and how conveniently handy and righteous is the Americans’ use of force
oh and as for Rescued by Rover; well, the kidnapping of a child by someone clearly marked as a “gypsy” is surely blatant enough stereotyping, whatever the motives. Why a “gypsy”? Then again, we haven’t made much progress with this idea either; there are huge numbers who see romanies as childsnatchers, i remember when a British boy went missing in Greece, romanies were immediately suspected in the media here.
Wow, what a thread…and to think I haven’t as of yet seen anything by one of the earliest film pioneers, I better get on with my homework!
Threads like these deserve revivals! I hope more people who have seen her work comment here and express their thoughts. We need threads like these, not the typical shit that’s been going on recently in the forums.
I’ve done a list “Alice Guy-Blaché, Queen of the Pioneers”, in the Lists section, with many of her films from youtube, though sadly some no longer available.
I purchased the “Gaumont” release from Kino. It has 64 of her films from 1897-1907. But haven’t seen anything prior to 1897.
That’s fantastic, i’d love to see Fée aux Choux. Can you let me know which films you like best, i’ll have to get that collection some time. In the meantime, here are some on youtube. 2 no longer there it seems; La Saucisse, a great chase film with a dog and a string of sausages, and Little Tich is another favourite, with a performer with enormous shoes. Monsieur Prend son Bain is a witty Melies-like film relying on special effects; it must have been great fun for the early directors trying all sorts of new tricks
l’Opéra a l’Envers (The Opera in Paris Backwards)
Pantomime Lesbienne (1st lesbian film?)
Miss Dundee, Dog Trainer
Danses Gitanes (when i see the little girl in the first 2 dances i wonder at the dehumanising treatment of romanies and how such children as well as adults ended up in the concentration camps.)
Spain, filmed by Alice in 1905
L’Emeute sur la Barricade
The Irresistible Piano
Faling Leaves, pt 1
Falling Leaves, pt 2
Man, Kenji, I had forgotten about those links! Some of them are in dire need of submission!
We need lots more by her on site, i did ask but the trouble is getting the pictures- for admin as well as me- apparently. That was a while back, though.
Any other films with the racial stereotyopes CEM mentioned?
I just saw Falling Leaves. Guy definitely needs some more exposure! Thanks for this, Kenji – and thanks Dimitris for the bump!
Thanks for the links Kenji. I saw a bunch of her films up at UCLA many years ago. Glad some are available today.
Kino released a set called “Gaumont Treasures” which featured her, Feuillade and Leonce Perret.
Pretty comprehensive and an interesting look at film becoming a narrative entertainment as it outgrows its initial curiosity factor.
Does anyone know why she does not show up in the database with a profile or a film? She appears in lists and forum discussions but not in a designated director page/profile. Is it because her films are too dated and cannot be transferred?? Or?…
8 months ago Grey Daisies added one of her films, La vie du Christ
and 6 months ago Geronimo added her profile, Alice Guy
Or maybe they do exist and it’s only “my” search engine and list making/updating functions that are still screwed up?!
@NOHEA – I’m sure with Kenji’s thread, site managers can add them. If Thomas Edison’s films are on here, I’m sure there should be films on here for Alice as well.
Finished watching her 1916 film “The Ocean Waif”. Hilarious film and felt that Doris Kenyon absolutely shined. Too bad the film is incomplete and has significant nitrate damage.
Finally read about Alice today. Here’s some more videos (hopefully they show up):
La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) – 1896 – Here’s some history, folks. One of the first fiction films ever made.
La Glu (The Glue) – 1907
Algie The Miner – 1912 – I’ll let you come up with your own stuff here.
Just to update Kenji’s link:
Falling Leaves – 1912