The Cabbage-Patch Fairy

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 1, 2015

We need footnotes here, as the passage of time and the changing of sensibilities can sometimes leave us in the dark, at least a little bit. What’s going on?

Dave Kehr reports that this is a remake of Guy’s very first film, made back in 1895. Or 1896. It had been very popular with audiences, and so led to the same kind of if-it-worked-once strategy that continues to operate in film industries today. We tend to resist, and often bemoan, but you can’t really blame them can you? Now as then, it’s an industry, for which product is created and consumers sought.

A lady finds and hefts, in a cavalier fashion, bunches of naked babies out from under these cabbage leaves. This would seem to derive from a French idiom concerning how baby girls originate in roses, while boys come from the cabbage patch. We’re not completely sure though. 1900 didn’t need the explanation, and the 2010s no longer has the information.

We’ve encountered the early film phenomenon of sketchily partial adaptations of well-known literary sources (Edwin Porter’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, [q.v., the 1907 Ben Hur, etc.). This wasn’t necessarily or even seen as a shortcoming. It was properly assumed that the audience would draw upon its extra-cinematic experience or frames of reference to bring coherence to the medium’s infant partiality.

We know¬†how this phenomenon operated in narrative registers, as the medium urged itself forward toward bigger and sometimes better things. Guy’s piquant little production suggests how it also informs much smaller expressions, at a more basic level. Another time can be a lot like another language. It can be learned, but there are so many tiny turns that cause you to lose your way!