GUERNESEY

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Les animated photographs de David Devant (février 1900)

Si David Devant s'occupe depuis plusieurs mois de la Markelyne and Cooke's Provincial Company, il organise cependant une séance de vues animées à Guernesey, au cours du mois de février de 1900. Les projections prennent place dans un curieux spectacle organisé par The Royal Hand Bell-Ringers, un groupe de joueurs de cloches qui connaît une grande renommée dans ces années-là. La première a lieu le 5 février 1900, au St-Julien's Hall.

royal hand bell ringers

Elliott & Fry, Londres, The Royal Hand-Bell Ringers and Glee Singers (c. 1887)
© Footlights Notes

Les différents numéros du spectacle se combinent avec les projections de films. Même si le nom de David Devant figure bien comme responsable du biograph -nom utilisé dans The Star du 6 février 1900 -, il reste difficile d'affirmer que c'est vraiment lui qui est aux manettes. Ce qui est rare, c'est que la presse va détailler le programme de vues animées qui sont proposées aux habitants de Guernesey :

THE ROYAL HAND BELL-RINGERS
[...]
Additional attractions will be provided by the exhibition of David Devant's wonderful animated photographs. We append the list of the latter which will speak for themselves :
An Attack of the Devon Light Infantry.
"The Absent-Minded Beggar."
Troops and guns for the Transvaal.
The 1st Munster Fusiliers embarking on board the Arundel Castle.
The Arundel Castle laden with troops steaming out of Docks.
General Sir Redvers Buller embarking.
Lord Wolseley and Sir Donald Currie inspecting the Roslin Castle.
The Seaforth Highlanders leaving Cairo for the front.
Officers and Troops aboard the Kinfauns Castle.
Grand send-off.
President Kruger leaving for the Volksraad.
Seaforth Highlanders crossing the Modder River (in action).
Cavalry and Hussars crossing the River.
Boer versus Briton — -"The Battle."
"After the Battle,"' the Ambulance Corps and Sisters of the Red Cross.


The Star, Guernsey, Saturday, 3 February 1900, p. 2

L'annonce est assez exceptionnelle et même si l'on se sait pas quel est l'éditeur de ces films - plusieurs maisons, dont Paul, en proposent -, on est impressionné par le nombre de vues. D'ailleurs, il y a d'autres images animées comme le signale le même journal trois jours plus tard :

An exhibition of David Devant's biograph from the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, was then given. The first portion of this part of the entertainment was devoted to a series of amusing and interesting views. Particularly good was the train scenes in one of which the express is observed coming up rapidly and snatches away the mail-bag from the side of a post. The American express was most realistic and one could have imagined that the train was heading at full speed for the stage. The fight between the sweep and the miller was most amusing, and the water polo match was very good indeed. In the train scenes views were shown of how objects are overtaken and passed by an express train which went through several tunnels. The receding views taken from the end of an express were magnificently shown on the screen. These were particularly appreciated.
After a series of these views, some of which were not particularly distinct, and the screen for the most part being too small for the pictures to be seen entirely, the campanologists resumed their entertainment, the march “Norma," being magnificently performed.
[…] The last part of the entertainment concluded with the biograph which showed troops embarking at Southampton, games on board a troopship, etc. After a photograph of Lord Kitchener had been shown, the entertainment after a prolonged pause, during which the audience waited for more, most abruptly came to an end with the National Anthem.
Taking the campanological part of the entertainment it is really excellent, and the singing introduced very good. As for the biograph shown last night we have seen views from other cinematographs equally well projected upon the screen.
Those who intend patronising the Royal Hand-bell Ringers and the biograph should not forget that the last performance of the above will take place to-morrow under very distinguished patronage.


The Star, Guernsey, Tuesday 6 February 1900, p. 2

Les vues animées occupent ainsi une place très importante dans ces soirées. En revanche, le journaliste semble un peu plus réservé sur les conditions de projection, ce qui surprend tout de même, car David Devant n'est pas un novice en la matière et les projections animées se sont tout de même améliorées depuis 1896. L'ensemble du spectacle est offert pendant trois soirées et la dernière a lieu le 8 février 1900.

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