Mauvais temps au port

Lumière filmmaker unknown, France, 1899


The fact that the Lumiere filmmakers work was limited by the need to keep their cameras still, and only having 50 seconds of film available to them meant that they had to use as many means as they could to bring their shots to life: a flow of vehicles and people passing by; the clear gestures of those on screen; placing the camera on a moving vehicle; short scenes etc. Weather proved a part of their visual toolkit, rendering their 50 seconds more visually interesting.

In this shot, where the boat tries to go out against the wind, the frame is split into two equal parts: The sky, which is at ease in its calm uniformity, and the sea, which, contrary to the sky, is choppy and full of movement. The white tops of the constantly moving waves in the lower half of the image create pictorial, visual events in the shot that are as important as the scenario of the three men on their boat, trying to get out of the port. Bad weather is consciously depicted in this film, unlike the weather in Baby’s Breakfast. This shot wouldn’t have half as much interest in it if the men weren’t struggling against the hostile weather.