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Les forgerons
IMDB Rating: 5.1/10 from 477 votes
Release: 28 June 1896 (Finland) /

Les forgerons

Genre: Documentary, Short
Director: Louis Lumière,
Synopsis: Two blacksmiths are at work, facing the camera, a wall, window, and stacked boxes behind them. Both are mustachioed with dark hair. On our right, a smith in the dark clothes of a laborer continuously turns the handle of the bellows, keeping hot a small furnace in front of him. On our left, in white shirt and tie, the lead smith pounds a three-foot length of metal on an anvil and then plunges the shaft into a tub of water at his feet. He takes a metal rod and scrapes it across the shaft. Next, from our left, a man enters with refreshments. Work pauses. Written by <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

After witnessing Edison's Kinetoscope peepshow viewer, Charles Antoine Lumière was so impressed that he encouraged his sons to invent a system for projecting films. This Lumière film, "Les Forgerons", makes it apparent that one of the films that the Lumières viewed from Edison was "Blacksmith Scene" (1893). "Blacksmith Scene" was the first motion picture shown to the public (on 9 May 1893); it was part of the first program at the first Kinetoscope parlor; and it remained a widely distributed film as the medium continued in popularity. "Les Forgerons" is a remake of "Blacksmith Scene": both films are staged scenes of blacksmiths at work, with them interrupting their work briefly to pass around a bottle of beer. "Les Forgerons" was one of the original ten films the Lumière brothers screened to the public on 28 December 1895. This has to be the most appropriately timed remake in motion picture history.

Factually, the Lumière brothers weren't the first to introduce cinema (not even commercially), nor was "Les Forgerons" the first remake, as the Edison Company had already remade Annabelle's dance films a few times due to the prints wearing out. Nevertheless, "Les Forgerons" remains an interesting first in film history. Unlike the Annabelle dance films, which were essentially duplicates, this remake was by different filmmakers who introduced some subtle variations upon the original. Additionally, the Lumière brothers' screenings remain significant for their system's superiority to previous inventions and its immense success.

The Edison film is rather awkwardly filmed, with one of the filmmakers standing within camera's view at its beginning before moving aside. Moreover, the Black Maria studio was a confining and undecorated shack. The Lumière remake has a somewhat more intimate framing and a more polished mise-en-scène. One surviving print of "Les Forgerons" is even hand colored, which does add to the picture's vivacity. It seems that the Lumière Company added color to several films in an attempt to lend realism. In addition to this film, hand-colored prints for "Partie de cartes" (1895), "Mort de Marat" (1897) and "Exécution de Jeanne d'Arc" (1898) have survived. In imitation of the Annabelle dance films, they also hand colored their version of "Danse serpentine" (1897).

The beer break, however, has been cut out of the surviving colorized print of "Les Forgerons". This subtracts from, as Charles Musser has argued for "Blacksmith Scene", the nostalgia of the scenario. These films recall a bygone era of blacksmithing practices and of when drinking while working was commonplace--when work and leisure mixed more commonly.

Remaking films became a common practice in the early days of film-making and was an issue of a few lawsuits. If a company could get away with it, they wouldn't even bother imitating another's film and would just steal a print instead. Remakes have been a common practice in the film industry since.

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