Snowball fight 124 years ago. Lyon, France, 1896. Colorized and speed adjusted. Original in black and white by Louis Lumiere.
Oh wow! Another portal back in time!
Reblogging to add excerpts from Sam Anderson’s wonderful commentary about this newly colorized/upscaled* short film in The New York Times:
“This is my favorite film of 2020 — a tiny masterpiece that perfectly distills not only our current mayhem but also, more profoundly, our baffling displacement in time.
“The footage was captured in Lyon, in 1897, by the Lumière brothers…. It was originally black and white, of course, and herky-jerky because of the low frame rate. But this snowball fight has recently been colorized and smoothed, and the result is shockingly modern. [….]
“Down in the bottom-left corner [of the gif** below], a thick man with a strong black mustache fires a cheap shot: a wild fastball, from point-blank range, that barely misses its intended target, a slim man who is busy looking the other way. The slim man turns, cocks his left arm and wallops the big man on his thigh. [….]
“My favorite character, and the closest the film has to a protagonist, is a man in a bowler hat and a coat so long it flaps around his legs like the cloak of a levitating wizard. He looks as if he has just stepped out of a bank meeting, and yet he abandons himself to this childish street warfare with eager glee.
“And then there is the bicycle. This is the peak moment of brutality, when the whole group loses its collective goddamn mind. Right from the start, you can see the cyclist coming: a small figure, growing larger every second, gliding smoothly on an angle toward the fray. Before he even reaches the crowd, he starts to take distant fire. And yet he is determined to ride on. When he arrives, all the warring factions turn to unite against him, unleashing a wickedly targeted cyclone. The cyclist takes hard shots to the arm, the face, the back, the neck. Still he pedals forward, hunching his back, spinning his long legs — a stoic hero, intent on gliding through the violence, determined to reach the safety of the other side.
“But he can’t. The cyclist absorbs one blow too many. He collapses like a broken toy. [….]
“On an intellectual level, we all understand that historical people were basically just like us. All those stiff figures frozen in blurred photos and smoke-stained oil paintings — the endless parade of side-whiskers, small dogs, billowing dresses, baggy trousers….They lived, as we do, in the throbbing nerve-pocket of the now. They were anxious and unsure, bored and silly. Nothing that would happen in their lifetimes had happened yet. The ocean of time was crashing fresh waves, nonstop, against the rocks of their days. And like us they stood there, gasping in the cold spray, wondering what people of the past were like.
“And yet it’s hard, across such wide gulfs of time, to really feel this connection. So to watch this snowball fight, to see these people so alive, is a precious gift of perspective. We are them. They are us. We, too, will disappear. We will become abstractions to be puzzled over by future people. That certainty, in the flux of 2020, feels anchoring. We are not unique. We move in the historical flow. [….]
“In Lyon, this street from the snowball fight is still there. It still looks basically identical: the trees, the buildings. I am staring at it now on my computer screen, and in my mind I am already planning a trip, imagining a pilgrimage, in some unrecorded future.”
[See below the cut for footnotes & info about video clips used for the gifs.]
Reblogging yet again, because this is such a wonderful timeslip moment, and on this occasion also for the commentary.