Snapchat of the ages

When viewing these Lumiere and Melies shorts, it is like viewing a modern snapchat of history before the time of snapchat itself. The short films are captured in a way to represent and illustrate the everyday activities of the modern man and women of that era. The clips are short and framed beautifully. Many of the images remind me of Instagram photography of geographical locations but of a time before hand held phones existed.

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When thinking about this, it shows us how even with advances in technology, life and modernization, we still have desires to capture the world as we see it in front of us, even how mundane, useless or boring it may seem to others at the time. However, these short clips become a historical document of the way people live in that time and space, their values, beliefs and attitudes in their ever day life. Which can all be captured in just a 30 -50 second clip of footage, stringing together a cinema representation of culture and life itself.

What is remarkable about these short clips though, is the codes and conventions they convey, which set up the fore front to many of the genre’s and styles of filming that can be seen in today’s age of cinema and filming. They illustrate the first learning blocks of cinema and techniques of capturing story telling in a role of footage. They illustrate the key points in film making, such as cinematography, genre, character motivations and storytelling.

In relation to characters and genre, this can be seen in the short clip of a toddler learning to walk. We have a sensation of suspense, but also comedic relief in the final moments of the clip.  Suspenseful because as the audience watches, the toddler gets closer and closer to the step, nearly stumbling over. Questions like, will the toddler make it without falling? Or will the toddler hurt themselves all come to mind. Because of this, there is an immediate connection between the audience and the character of the toddler. We want them to succeed in walking across and get there safely. The connection is manifested by the recognition of the toddler as a character, with their own set desires and motives. The story becomes about the toddler’s success of walking across to the step. The toddler has a desire to succeed, and being depicted as a cute little dressed up toddler we as an audience have all sit back saying “aw” as we watch sympathising and going on along the toddler’s journey to success. However, the toddler stumbles and falls, but quickly gets back up again using their two hands. While watching in class, everyone chuckled as the toddler was free of harm, thus allowing for a comedic relief of the suspense felt throughout the clip.


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