Le Cinematographe de David Devant (août 1897)

Jean-Claude SEGUIN

Depuis le mois d'août 1896, David Devant, le célèbre magicien, a organisé une entreprise afin de distribuer et présenter des films en Grande-Bretagne. Il peut compter, à partir du milieu de l'année 1897 sur plusieurs collaborateurs dont son propre frère. Même si le nom de ce dernier, Ernest Wighton, n'apparaît pas, il est possible qu'il soit l'opérateur du cinématographe. Alors que jusqu'alors, Devant, faisait souvent référence à R. W. Paul et à ses appareils, ici c'est le terme plus générique de "cinematographe" qui désigne le projecteur. La première a lieu le 17 août, à l'Assembly Rooms : 

THE CINEMATOGRAPHE AT WHITSTABLE.-THE cinematographe is without doubt one of the most marvellous discoveries of this century, for it faithfully reproduces every movement, expression, and incidents of scenes which are considered of sufficient importance for the inventors to pourtray. The people of Whitstable are indebted to Mr. David Devant for an opportunity of seeing the wonderful invention, for at the beginning of this week be visited the town gave three demonstrations at the Assembly Rooms. Some little disappointment was caused on Monday as, owing to a delay on the railway, the apparatus did not arrive, and therefore the exhibition could not be given. On Tuesday evening, however, the hall was srowded, and many people had be refused admission A wonderful programme was presented, the principal pictures shown being those of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee procession, while the other subjects included a Spanish bull fight, the water chute, the fire brigade call, the haunted castle, dramatic war scene from Greece, an American express travelling at sixty miles an hour, and the serpentine dance. The views were shown in two parts interspersed with musical sketches. The hearty applause which frequently arose from the audience was sufficient to show that programme was thoroughly enjoyed by all who witnessed it. On Wednesday two more performances were given, at both of which the hall was crowded, and again many were prevented from seeing the cinematographe which undoubtedly a triumph of recreative science and art. We are glad to hear that Mr. Devant propose to re-visit the town on September 13th and the following days. Further particulars will be advertised later on.

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Whitstable, 21 August 1897, 8.

La diversité des vues renvoie sans aucun doute à plusieurs catalogues. À remarquer le titre The Haunted Castle que l'on retrouve dans la production Méliès sous le titre Le Chateau hanté. Après trois soirées, l'opérateur et son appareil quittent Whitstable.