Ladies’ dresses nailed to a palisade

Ladies’ dresses nailed to a palisade ( Ladies’Skirts Nailed to a Fence ) is a British film directed by James Bamforth in 1899, released in 1900 .


Two women (two costumed men), dressed in long dresses characteristic of the time, wearing flowery capes and umbrellas, chattered in front of a palisade. They approach each other several times to slip gossip in their ear. Two jokers, hidden on the other side of the palisade, undertake to nail the bottom of the dresses. The two gossips are trapped and, to free themselves, have no alternative but to demolish the boards.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Ladies’Skirts Nailed to a Fence
  • Aka Women’s Rights ( Women’s Rights )
  • French title: Ladies’ dresses nailed to a palisade
  • Director: James Bamforth
  • Production: Bamforth and Company Ltd
  • Photography: J.Bamforth
  • Duration: 1 min 6 s
  • Format: 35 mm , black and white, mute
  • Country: United Kingdom 
  • Release date: 1900


As Georges Méliès did in France , or Cecil Hepworth in England , to play the characters in his films, James Bamforth uses strangers, neighbors who have become improvised actors .

  • the two ladies: unknown transvestites
  • the two jokers: unknown


This film is a curiosity: “This is the first time in the history of cinema that we tried a field-shot on the same side, it was worth a try! Although the experience was short-lived one … ”

Indeed, James Bamforth wants to show the scene, sometimes on the side of the gossips, sometimes on the side of the jokers. As his British colleagues at the Brighton School have experimented , he shot several shots to show all aspects of the scene, which will later be called plans in France . “The first shot is easy to conceive, the two ladies, filmed in foot, jabbering at will. But then, how to show the two jokers on the other side? Asked today, this problem would immediately find its solution, it would be enough to place the camera on the other side of the fence and film at 180 ° compared to the first shot 2 . “Today, this solution is called the counter-field process . But at the time, the photosensitive emulsion used by all filmmakers was of the orthochromatic type. Not only did she not reproduce the entire spectrum of light, but she could not stand any backlighting 2 . Bamforth could also have reversed the artificial decoration of the palisade, but the idea did not come to him. “We must not forget that at the time, the filmmakers do not have models yet 2 . ” Bamforth chose to stay on the same side of the fence and does not change the framing of the camera. But after filming the ladies in front of the palisade, he puts them behind (we only see their heads) and plays the two jokers where they chatted in the previous plan. And when they are nailed to the boards, he reverses the device once more: the ladies come back to the front of the boards. “The three shots were glued one behind the other and it seems that the characters moved as if by magic to one side and the other of the palisade, as in a fantasy Méliès, by the trick of the camera stop and the substitution. The result, which was not intended James Bamforth’s really weird 2 . ”

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588  p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  85-86
  2. ↑ a , b , c and d Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  85-86

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