Jean-Claude SEGUIN

Boston est la capitale de l'état du Massachussets (États-Unis)


Le vitascope (Keith's New Theatre, 18 mai-8 août 1896)

L'eidoloscope d'Otway Latham (Boston Museum, 22-[27] juin 1896)

C'est vers la mi-juin que le Boston Museum fait paraître une note pour annoncer l'arrivée prochaine de l'eidoloscope :

Messrs Currier and Hamilburg, the managers of the Boston museum summer season, completed negotiations yesterday whereby they will be able to exhibit to their patrons at the museum, commencing next Monday, the wonderful eidoloscope, in conjunction with the performances of "The Yankee Cruiser." The scenes shown are more than flurried glimpses, one scene in particular, that of an actual Spanish bull fight, requiring 20 minutes for the time of action.

The Boston Globe, Wednesday, June 17, 1896, p. 9.

boston museum exterieur

Boston Museum, 23 avril 1903
General Photographic Collection
© Historic New England

C'est finalement le 19 juin qu'est annoncé pour la première fois l'eidoloscope. D'après la publicité, l'appareil pourrait être celui qui a organisé des séances au Hammerstein's Olympia.

boston museum 1896 eidoloscope boston museum 1896 eidoloscope 01
The Boston Globe, Boston, 18 juin 1896, p. 3. The Boston Globe, Boston, 21 juin 1896, p. 19.

L'inauguration a lieu le lundi 22 juin 1896 et le responsable de l'appareil est Otway Latham. Comme ailleurs, l'eidoloscope ne constitue pas à lui seul un spectacle et en l'occurrence, il apparaît comme un complément d'un spectacle principal comme on peut le lire dans l'entrefilet suivant :

This is the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Museum’s regular summer season, and the event will be recognized by the present summer management at both performances today of “The Yankee Cruiser." To every lady attending will be presented a souvenir in the shape of a pair of gold buckles. Everything Is in readiness now, after a week of careful rehearsals, under the experienced eye of Napier Lothian, Jr., as stage director, for material changes and improvements in "The Yankee Cruiser," to be presented next Monday night. In connection with the regular performance will be seen for the first time in Boston, the wonderful eidoloscope.

Boston Post, Boston, 20 juin 1896, p. 5

Grâce au programme publié et à un nouvel article, nous connaissons treize vues de l'eidoloscope. La durée des filims est un élément certain de publicité, même si, dans le cas présent, le journaliste a tendance à rallonger la durée de la course de taureaux mexicaine :

The Eidoloscope reproduces scenes from home and abroad. The figures are life size and every movement is reproduced. One continuous picture, taken in Mexico, shows in twenty minutes a complete bull fight. The charging of the bull at the toreadors and horses, the killing of two horses by the bull, and finally the killing of the bull, is all vividly shown. Clouds of dust are kicked up by the bull until he is hidden from sight, and then rolling away, it is hard to realize that it is only a picture. It is a perfect bull fight.
Another picture is the crack regiment of Mexico drilling in their armory, showing the intricate evolutions of the soldiers in all their barefooted splendor, while every step is in perfect time to the music which accompanies. Perhaps the most remarkable of the pictures is the Niagara whirlpool rapids. It only needs the roar of the distant falls to bring Niagara actually before you. Some idea of the immensity of the pictures may be had from the statement that a curtain 40 by 25 feet, or the expanse of the entire proscenium opening at the Museum, is required. The presentation of the Eidoloscope pictures will follow the presentation of “The Yankee Cruiser.”

Boston Post, Boston, Sunday, June 21, 1896, p. 10.

Un autre journal, The Boston Globe évoque, en outre, d'autres titres et le tournage de vues locales : 

The drill of a company of cavalry is reproduction of a drill at Van Courtland park, New York. Another set of pictures displayed shows the skirt dancer Flourette [sic]. This is in colors. Local scenes of special interest in Boston will at once be prepared.

The Boston Globe, Boston, Sunday, June 21, 1896, p. 18.

Le compte rendu de la presse souligne également que la qualité de la projection reste assez médiocre :

The eidoloscope proved the strong attraction. Its pictures are similar to the vitascope. save that the films are longer and the exhibition takes more time. The pictures are quite large and were wonderfully interesting. The first picture was the Niagara Rapids, the second a military evolution in Mexico, the third the bicycle parade in New York and the last a Mexican bull fight, which was almost too realistic. It showed the entrance to the bull ring, the introduction of the bull and the fight with the infuriated animal until he was finally conquered.
Owing to the short space of time in which the machine could be brought from New York and set up in the Museum all the details could not be perfected and the working was not as satisfactory as later exhibitions will be. Some changes in lights and lenses are to be made which will produce better results, but even in its present condition it is well worth seeing. The securing of the eidoloscope was a wise move and will prove a great attraction this summer.

Boston Post, Boston, 23 juin 1896, p. 5.

Par ailleurs, on annonce le prochain tournage d'une vue locale : " One of the promised features of the eidoloscope is a baseball game at the Boston grounds." (Boston Post, Boston, 25 juin 1896, p. 5). L'eidoloscope reste jusqu'au 26 ou 27 juin, mais ne quitte pas Boston puisqu'il s'installe juste après dans une autre salle.

L'eidoloscope (Park Theatre, 29 juin 1896)

L'eidoscope s'installe au Park Theatre de Boston à partir du 29 juin 1896. Outre les films présentés, le spectacle est composé d'un certain nombre de vedettes connues du monde des variétés.

boston theatre park 1896

Boston Post, Boston, Dimanche 28 juin 1896, p. 10.

Le cinématographe Lumière (Keith's New Theatre, 10 août->23 décembre 1896)

Boston, après New York et Philadelphie, est la troisième ville qui reçoit le cinématographe Lumière. C'est Benjamin F. Keith, le propriétaire des théâtres à son nom qui a signé avec les Lumière pour l'exploitation de leur appareil. L'arrivée du cinématographe est annoncé dès le 8 août : 

The third of the Luminere [sic] Cinematographe machines to arrive here was received in New York on Sunday. It was shipped at once to Boston, where it will immediately be placed in the bill at Keith's Theatre. The three Keith houses now have the Cinematographe.

New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, 8 août 1896, p 8.

B. F. Keith et Edward Franklin Albee inaugurent le B. F. Keith’s New Theatre, le 24 mars 1894, à côté du Bijou Theatre et du Boston Theatre. Pendant les premières années, c'est une salle qui accueille des vaudevilles et c'est là que Thomas Edison présente son vitascope le 18 mai 1896, premier appareil à offrir des vues animées à Boston.


Keith's New Theatre (s.d.)

Les choses vont aller très vite. Au Keith's New Theatre, le cinématographe va prendre la place du vitascope qui interrompt ses projections le 8 août 1896 (Boston Post, Boston, 8 août 1896, p. 5). À peine deux jours plus tard, il commence ses projections :

Another novelty is scheduled for Keith's tomorrow in addition to the living pictures. This is the Lumiere cinematographe, the original motion photograph machine. It is the invention of Messrs Lumiere & Sons of Lyons, France, and was first exhibited at Paris in 1895. At the present time it is the reigning fashionable fad throughout continental Europe, and during the past few weeks has been attracting an immense amount of attention at Mr Keith's New York theater, where the audiences actually cheer some of the pictures, such as the "Arrival of the Fast French Mail," and the thrilling military views. The cinematographe pictures are pronounced absolutely steady, are clearer than others and do not repeat themselves. It should create as much interest as its predecessor, the vitascope.

The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, 9 août 1896, p. 18.

Les séances se déroulent sans problème particulier, et le seul événement notable est l'arrivée à Boston d'un opérateur Lumière qui est là pour prendre des vues : 

There will shortly be presented several views of local character, the familiarity of which, together with their faithfulness to the original, ara sure to create a sensation.

The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, septembre 13, 1896, p. 19.

C'est le cinématographiste attitré de la maison Lumière, Alexandre Promio, qui est venu aux États-Unis, d'une part pour contrôler les postes et d'autre part pour filmer des vues américaines qui font cruellement défaut dans les programmes. Boston constitue la dernière étape du voyage de Promio. Il va multiplier les vues de rues et d'avenues, une dominante dans le corpus nord-américain. Après son départ, le Boston Daily Globe commente le bref séjour de Promio dans la ville : 

Mr. Alexander Promio, one of the greatest photographers in Europe, was in Boston, last week, and made several pictures for display in the Cinematographe, at Keith's. Among the views taken were a brush of the mile ground between two well-known gentlemen owrers of fast horseflesh, with a number of prominent people gathered about as spectators; views in the public garden, Copley, Adams, Haymarket and Dock sqs, Tremont row, on a busy day, Cornhill, operations on the subway, and a scene of others. These will be exhibited as soon as the films can be prepared, and cannot fail of attracting wides read attention from Bostonians.

Boston Daily Globe, Boston, sept 20, 1896, p. 18.

Pourtant, les vues tournées vont tarder de longues semaines à pouvoir être projetées, à Boston comme ailleurs. Cela indique un problème d'organisation, le retour des négatifs à Lyon constitue une sérieux frein à la présentation des vues animées : 

There will be new views in the Cinematographe, which seems to interest people just as much as at the outset. It is hoped that about the middle of the week the Boston views will have arrived from France, when some of them will be put on at once.

The Boston Sunday Globe, 1er novembre 1896, p. 18.

La situation est à ce point critique que le Keith's annonce même la suspension des séances, faute de nouveaux films : 

The Cinematographe has been dropped from the list of attractions, as it was found impossible to secure change of views with any degree of regularity. It is possible that the latest machine, the Biographe, will be substituted next week.

The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, 6 décembre 1896, p. 18.

Ça n'est finalement que plus de trois mois après leur tournage que les films pris par Alexandre Promio sont enfin proposés au public bostonien. Mais il semble qu'il soit déjà trop tard.


Boston Daily Globe, 23 décembre 1896, p. 10

Si le cinématographe a remplacé le vitascope d'Edison, il va être à son tour évincé par le biograph qui a l'avantage de disposer d'un répertoire de vues américaines qui attirent davantage le public de Boston :  

Following the cinematographe comes a later and better invention on the same principle, the biograph, which shows larger and clearer pictures, than the French machine. Among the interesting views is a realistic reproduction of the celebrated empire state express, taken at some stage of its 60-mile-an-hour run. The train comes tearing down the track in a manner to make nervous people start back and endeavor to move out of its way.

The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, 10 janvier 1897, p. 18.

Finalement le cinématographe est resté pratiquement cinq mois à Boston, ce qui constitue un record pour une ville américaine. Au cours de cette période, voici les vues qui ont été présentées : A Childish QuarrelThe Gardener and the Bad BoyDemolishing a BuildingHyde Park, LondonThe Royal AquariumView Near Margate Station, LondonA Dip in the SeaArrival of the Fast French MailSabre Battle of the German HussarsCharge of the 7th French Cavalry (Boston Sunday Post, Boston, 9 août 1896, p. 10), Baby's BreakfastA Russian DanceA Parade or the 96th regiment of French infantryAn angry sea, a picture that is very much superior to the "great wave scene" of the vitascope (The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, 23 août 1896, p. 18), The diving in the famous baths at Milan, and the exciting shooting the Chutes always elicited generous applause (The Boston Daily Globe, Boston), 26 septembre 1896, p. 8.), Hamburg BridgeThe Children's PetsFrench Cavalry Fording a River (Boston Sunday Post, Boston, 4 octobre 1896, p. 10), Feeding the SwansWatering Cavalry HorsesManufacturing Coke (The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, 13 octobre 1896, p. 3).