Around a cabin

Around a cabin is a cartoon directed by Émile Reynaud , released in 1894 . This footage uses the process of optical theater , allowing Reynaud to project a film painted by hand in color while the Cinematograph of the Lumière brothers did not exist yet. The screenings are accompanied on the piano by music specially written by the composerGaston Paulin . Silver rods placed on the flexible belt at key moments actuate a buzzer which, using an electromagnet , produces, for example, the noise of the cabin door.

This film is part of the second program of Luminous Pantomimes, which screenings took place at the Musée Grévin’s Cabinet Fantastique , from December 1894 to March 1900 1 .

The final scene of the band (16 poses) was given by the Reynaud family at the Prague Cinematheque in 1926 . The rest of the pantomime was sold by the Reynaud family in October 1948 to the CNC , for the Cinémathèque française , where it is kept. It has never been digitized. A copy of the 16 final poses was offered to the Oudart-Reynaud family by the Prague Museum of Technology in 1996, allowing Julien Pappé and his collaborators at the Magic Films studio to produce several full-length copies for theatrical reconstructions. optical and a 35 mm format adaptation. This film adaptation lasts about 4 minutes. It has been digitized and is broadcast by the Cinémathèque française 2 .

The representations of Émile Reynaud’s luminous pantomimes welcomed around 500,000 paying spectators globally between 1892 and 1900 .


A young boy enters to the right of the fieldon the diving board at the end of which it launches into the water and disappears. Another follows him and makes the somersault. Both frolic in the water and move away. A paunchy gentleman comes forward, a young boy pushes him to the water where he spreads on his back. All move away while swimming. Two seagulls approach and leave. It was then that the couple of Parisians arrived, elegantly dressed. The young woman, long dress and cape, carrying a dog in his arms. The husband moves away to join his cabin, the young woman stays on the beach to play with her little dog. An old handsome, hidden behind the cabins, notices her and advances to meet her, saluting her. The dog escapes his mistress who falls into the sand trying to hold him back. The old handsome helps him get back on his feet and begins to follow her. She goes to a cabin where the guy spies through the keyhole. Arriving from behind the cabins, the husband comes back and sees the indiscretion and boot the posterior voyeur who does not ask his rest and leaves the scene. The elegant fate of the cabin, dressed in a swimsuit and a bathing cap. The young couple walks to the edge of the water where they enter and swim side by side, disappearing to our sight behind the cabins alignment. The indiscreet is back and enters the cabin of the Parisienne. The dog tries to get him out and steals his cap. The couple comes back, finds the importunate, the husband throws him in the water. The couple moves away. The indelicate stands up soaked and leaves the scene, followed by the dog. A boatman arrives, stops and unfurls the sail of his skiff,3 .

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Around a cabin or Misadventures of a copurchic at the sea baths
  • Director and screenplay: Émile Reynaud
  • Music: Gaston Paulin
  • Genre: animation – comedy – pantomime
  • Duration: about 15 minutes
  • Format: 70 mm with a single central perforation between each hand-drawn vignettes, colored with aniline inks, with a black dorsal layer outside the character line. Projection of the fixed decoration by a second lantern. Mute, with electrical contacts along the film to cause synchronized sound effects.
  • Release date: December 1894 ( France )


Around a cabin already has all the classic characters of the modern cartoon: a certain duration, an ingenious scenario, well-typed characters, gags, rigging, a story well conducted and told, a synchronized music, a beautiful scenery and all the charm of color 4 . ” The bright Pantomimes can be viewed by many spectators, they tell real stories each, with many vicissitudes and a period that can match any of the movies of the primitive cinema, be it the first film of William Kennedy Dickson to Thomas Edison , or the future animated photographic views of Louis Lumière. “These are the first fictions in animated pictures frame by frame ( cartoon ), and the first color films. They are accompanied by the pianist Gaston Paulin who has composed specially original scores, the first original tapes written, even if they were never recorded as part of the Optical Theater 5 . ”

Colored by hand, the luminous pantomimes could not be duplicated since at the time the color photographic emulsions that would have made it possible to reproduce them were only at the stage of laboratory research. “The only way for Émile Reynaud to broadcast copies would have been to take up her brushes and redraw … an original, then another, which was unthinkable, except to hire hundreds of” little hands “, as will more late producers to color stencil black and white films. Reynaud is not an industrial entertainer, he is an artist, the luminous Pantomimes will never leave the Musée Grévin 6 . “Especially since the contract granted by the management was leonin and prohibited any other projection outside the Cabinet Fantastique museum Grevin 7 .

Émile Reynaud’s projections are the first projections of views in motion, on a large screen. The “Fantastic Cabinet” the Grevin museum, which had been leased to the director, is indeed the world’s first cinema (1892) before the Kinetoscope Parlors Edison (1894) and the Salon Indien du Grand Café of the Lumière brothers (December 28, 1895). This places Émile Reynaud’s work and invention out of the precinema where they are usually confined by historians or critics.


  1. ↑ * Maurice Noverre ( Pref Victor Collignon), The Truth about the invention of the animated projection. Émile Reynaud, his life and his works , Brest, for the author,e  ed. , 99 p. p.  44
  2. ↑  [ archive ]
  3. ↑ Émile Reynaud Movies Painter – Coll. The Masters of Cinema – Cinémathèque Française 1945 – P68
  4. ↑ Georges Sadoul , history of world cinema from its origins to today , Paris, Flammarion ,, 719 p. p.  15
  5. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588 p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  23-24
  6. ↑ ditto
  7. ↑  [ archive ]

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