film 36 of 103

The Lone Fisherman

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 27, 2015

A really interesting mess of a film. Charles Musser’s film notes don’t say so, but I wonder if someone might not be riffing on The Waterer WateredThe Lone Fisherman is a little more natural dramatically, and more ambitious logistically. Unlike the Lumieres’ previous piece, the action here is actually kind of plausible. Also, there’s so much more going on! The camera placement looks promising, but it can’t quite catch all of what’s ends up happening. What happens is, basically, way too much: the frame is positively flooded with movement and action on any number of directional axes. Where did all these people come from?! Not only does the action get away from the people who are supposed to be directing this traffic, but so do the performances. As the script gets left beind people start improvising, jumping in the water themselves, even looking at the camera.

So the film unravels, but as it does so something else that is really quite cool happens. A straight document emerges from behind the knockabout. Revealed therein is a multi-leveled rurality, an appetizing glimpse of some now super-annuated bridge building technology, and a quite poignant glimpse of the way that people are still being so tickled and affected by this new-fangled technology.

P.S. A lot of the jokes in these early Edison pictures are actually in pretty poor taste. Unkind, I mean.