Card Party (1896, Georges Méliès)

Card Party runs a minute. Three guys sitting outside at a table, drinking wine, playing cards. It’s a family affair for director Méliès (who’s one of the card players), with his brother playing another of them. There aren’t any credits and apparently the third player’s identity is lost to time.

At the open, Méliès daughter walks up and is cute, then a server comes over with wine. There’s a dog in the shot—it’s a single shot—for a bit. The server and one of the card players break the fourth wall and look at the camera, so it doesn’t appear Méliès made sure everyone didn’t look at the camera. For a second it seems almost inviting, like the viewer is the fourth player at the table but… no, they’re just looking at the camera, which was probably gigantic and noisy because 1896.

The short ends with one of the players reading something in the newspaper, belly-laughing about it, and showing it to everyone else so they could belly-laugh in turn. So exaggerating reactions was a thing at least.

It’s a minute, so it’d be hard for it not to be fine. But just because it’s fine doesn’t mean it’s particularly interesting or worthwhile, outside a historical context.

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