I will return to my ongoing project (see recent entries) but in my search for more material, I came across this interesting tidbit. The following silent film was produced back in 1895 and is called The Sprinkler Sprinkled aka L’Arroseur arrosé in its native french.
Featuring François Clerc and Benoît Duval, the historical significance is it’s the earliest known attempt to make a comedy film. For those unable to see the embedded YouTube video, I’ll attempt to briefly describe what happens. We see a bearded man spraying flowers with a water hose. A young lad walks into the camera frame behind the old gentleman, and then intentionally stands on the hose, causing the water to stop flowing to the business end where the old man is watering plants. We witness the older man react to this by inspecting the nozzle, the boy jumps off the hose, water goes everywhere, and then the old man chases after the boy, grabbing him and pulling him back to where the hose now lay on the ground. The old man then spanks the boy with mock seriousness, lets the boy go and returns to spraying the plants with the hose.
The film is less than a moment long. Cinema was a very new technology back then, using 35mm film stock. It’s a very short film because all films back then were pretty much just to show people what could be done. In fact the technology was so novel, only Thomas Edison & Louis Lumière were using it, so most historians agree this is probably a work of Louis Lumière, tho it was a departure from the more documentarian work that had been filmed up to this point. Using film to tell a narrative was thinking outside the box.
Though brief and primitive, the work still inspires people over a century later. Take a gander at this more recent work, inspired by the sprinkler and his sprinklee.