This film is part of Free

Merry Moments in France

Lively Gallic goings on in an early film sound experiment

1907 3 mins Silent


This petit morceau of ooh-la-la seems to be a recreation of part of a stage play in the French farce style. It's likely that it was originally accompanied by a recorded soundtrack on disc - making it a relatively early example of its type if it really is 1907 - though sadly there's no known trace of any actual disc. Still, what survives has the flavour of louche Gallic carryings-on (at least as the more inhibited Edwardian Brits might have imagined it), even if the dancing isn't quite the Folies-Bergere...

The film is credited to Mr E Seal Donisthorpe - presumably Edmund, son of Wordsworth Seal Donisthorpe, one of many late 19th century inventors in the race to make photographs move. Edmund seems to have spent the early 1900s working on stereoscopic filming, sound synchronisation and other processes intended to improve film realism. Around 1910 he and his father unveiled the 'Kinesigraph', a 'perfect' sound-film disc synchroniser, "mechanical in operation... a marvel of ingenuity which can be managed by the veriest novice". Alas, the Kinesigraph hardly merits a footnote in the story of the development of film sound.