Carmencita (movie)

Carmencita is an American film , directed by William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, released in 1894.


The dancer Carmencita , twirling, performs traditional fandango figures .

Technical sheet

    • Original title: Carmencita
    • Director: William KL Dickson
    • Image: William Heise
    • Duration: 29 s
    • Genre: Music hall
    • Format: 35 mm double set of four rectangular side perforations Edison by frame, black and white, silent
    • Production: Edison Manufacturing Company
    • Release date: 1894


Carmencita: herself

History and Importance

The inventor and industrialist Thomas Edison, and his employee, the Scottish electrical engineer and photographer Laurie Dickson, create in 1891 the first animated camera that Edison calls the Kinetic , and a machine to view the films individually (c. is T. Edison who adopts the English word film to designate rolls of impressed film), called Kinétoscope . Laurent Mannoni, curator at the French Cinematheque ‘s device Precinema and cinema says loud and clear that the first films were recorded by the”Kinétographe (in Greek, movement writing): camera of the American Thomas Edison, patented August 24, 1891, employing perforated film 35 mm and a system of intermittent advance of the film by” ratchet wheel “. Between 1891 and 1895, Edison performs some seventy movies 1 ” . In fact, the very first films (between 1891 and 183) were recorded by a more archaic version of the kinetograph, using a film of 19 mm wide, with a single row of perforations , which scrolled horizontally, the perforations being at the bottom, and the photograms were circular (about 12 mm in diameter), the last memory of optical toys2 .

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson is the first director of film in the history of cinema, including Dickson Greeting ( Dickson’s Salvation ), which he shot in 1891, and of which he was the only performer. The film historian Georges Sadoul says in his history of world cinema that “the tapes filmed by Dickson are strictly speaking the first films 3 . ”

This 29-second film (the notion of short film, recent, did not exist at the time) was intended for Kinetoscope parlors , rooms where were lined several machines each loaded with a different film. To feed this circuit, Thomas Edison built in 1894 the first film studio in history, the Black Maria , located in West Orange in New Jersey 4 . It was there, in March 1894, that the Carmencita dancer who had been performing since the early 1890s at Koter & Bial’s , a music hall in New York , came to shoot this film.

According to historian of American cinema Charles Musser, Carmencita was the first woman to play in a film 5 . Carmencita “communicated an intense sensuality during his show, which led the journalists to write long columns inflamed on his show, articles that will later be reproduced in the catalog of Edison 6 films . ”

The film Carmencita is presented in New Jersey in summer, in the seaside resort of Asbury Park. The city’s founder, James A. Bradley, also an activist and member of the newly elected Senator Methodist community, “was so shocked by the sight of Carmencita’s lace and naked ankles, that he complained to the Mayor Abraham Ten Broeck. The keeper of the show was ordered to withdraw the licentious film, which he replaced with Les Chats Boxeurs 7 ” , as reported by the daily newspaper Newark Evening News of 17 July 1894.

Remember that at that time, all women wore long dresses that covered their feet to the chin. Their hair was largely hidden by a scarf or hat. Any other accoutrement belonged to prostitution, or at least so-called “easy women”. Now Carmencita raises her dress and petticoats, and her calves are clearly visible. In August 1894, a San Francisco operator was arrested for a “presumed indecent” kinetoscopic performance, Carmencita again. Originating the complaint, the Pacific Society for the Suppression of Vicewhose favorite targets were licentious literature, obscene books and pictures, the sale of morphine, cocaine, opium, tobacco, spirits, and lottery tickets, and which claimed more than seventy arrests and forty eight convictions in just two months 8 .


  1. ↑ Laurent Mannoni (celebration of 22 March 1895 French year of the invention of cinema), Lexicon (special issue), Paris, SARL Libération , al.  “Supplement” ( o 4306)p.  3
  2. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588 p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  16
  3. ↑ Georges Sadoul , history of world cinema from its origins to today , Paris, Flammarion ,, 719 p. p.  16
  4. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  25
  5. ↑ ( in ) Charles Musser , History of the American Cinema, Volume 1, The Emergence of Cinema, The American Screen to 1907 ,, 613 p. ( ISBN  0-684-18413-3 ) , p.  78
  6. ↑ (in) Allan Karcher, New Jersey’s Multiple Municipal Madness , New Brunswick, NJ, and London, Rutgers University Press, January 31, 1998, ( ISBN  0-8135-2565-9 ) , 320 pages
  7. ↑ (in) Gordon Hendricks, The Kinestoscope: America’s First Commercially Sucessful Motion Picture Exhibitor , New York, Theodore Gaus’ Sons, 1996 (reprint 1972.) ( ISBN  0-4050-3919-0 )
  8. ↑ (in) Vanessa R. Schwartz, Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-siècle Paris , Paris, Los Angeles and London, the University of California Press, 1998 (repr. 1999), ( ISBN  0-5202 -2168-0 )

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