Carmencita  (0)

5.8 / 10

Performing on what looks like a small wooden stage, wearing a dress with a hoop skirt and white high-heeled pumps, Carmencita does a dance with kicks and twirls, a smile always on her face.

Country United States

Genre Documentary, Short

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Carmencita (1894) Directed by William K.L. Dickson

Frank Veenstra | BobaFett1138.blogspot.com | bobafett1138.blogspot.com | English

(Review originally written at 25 November 2007)
This film is part of the series of short Edison films featuring circus and vaudeville acts. Subject in this movie is the American dancer Carmencita. She was quite popular as a dancer at the time and a much asked painting subject for painters. She was also the first every woman to appear in front of the camera in an Edison film, which also makes her the first every woman to appear in an American shot movie. But that's about as historically interesting as this movie gets.
The image quality isn't the greatest but the movements look at all times smooth and that's of course what was most important for Edison and Co. at the time. Camencita shows some twirling, with kicks and high arm movements. Her arms got out of the frame at times and the camera also didn't seemed to be steady. Perphaps it was standing on the same stage as Carmencita was dancing on, which caused the light camera shaking?
Interesting for those wanting to check out the early Edison Manufacturing Company films, but it's nothing too great or significant.
6/10

Carmencita (1894) - Home - Essential Films

Ion Martea | Essential Films | www.essential-films.co.uk | English

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1880SundayMar092014Mar 9, 2014 | Share Carmencita (1894)by Ion MarteaWilliam K.L. Dickson |
United States of America |
1894Carmencita, the Spanish Gypsy dancer nicknamed the "Pearl of Seville", was the first woman to appear on celluloid in the United States. Watching her dance is still a pleasant experience more than 100 years since the film was shot. Even in silence, we could sense the rhythm of the music, allowing the sound to liberate itself through her movements. It is a dance both harmonious and sensual, luring its audience into a passionate atmosphere steaming with heat.It is precisely this sexual element imprinted in 1894 for future generations which has made Carmencita the first film that raised calls for censorship. The question of what an audience should watch, particularly in the Victorian environment of New England, sparked at the very dawn of the industry. Censorship, in its essence, is nothing but an imposition of morals by the state, often supported by a public insecure in its own convictions, an imposition which has little faith in the consumer’s rationality, but also in the power of art to transcend ethics in order to bring out deeper truths about ourselves. The sheer acceptance over time of what a society considers a moral norm has proven the utter hypocrisy of censorship, as through calls to ban films such as Carmencita, one is banning beauty, grace, innocence, and the virility that haunts the human body.Above all, Carmencita’s dance is a proof of human vitality and joy, a celebration of the relationship desire has with our body. Dickson’s bare stage more than emphasises this element, as the performer does not require a prop to make the act of living a worthwhile experience. In hindsight, history has proven that the real survives against all odds. Carmencita may now be viewed as a simple cinematic curiosity, yet the dancer immortalised in 1890 by John Singer Sargent[1] and William Merritt Chase[2] can still charm us with her passionate movements.Filming the dance was however less of an artistic choice but rather a business one. As Musser notes, “the few surviving frames of Carmencita fail even to hint at the reasons for her reputation”[3]. “She was the best advertised vaudeville star in America, and […] without any attempt whatever to obtain press work in her behalf”[4]. Carmencita’s meteoric rise to fame allowed Edison to expose the power of film at popularising an event, and as such at cashing in on stardom through distribution.This was one of the first films to be included in the distribution package of the newly formed Edison Manufacturing Company. 1894 is a key year in the history of the medium, as it is the point when the discussion on film centres less on innovation and more on financial profit. This means that the choice of the subject matter becomes motivated by the public’s preferences. Carmencita could have only been admired on stage, mainly in New York, in the early 1890s. Edison allowed for her talent to be seen all over America and with no need for her presence. The fact that we can even enjoy her dance to these days shows how revolutionary film was in the debate on the preservation of performance art.[1]John Singer Sargent: La Carmencita. Paris: Musée d'Orsay, 1982.
[2]Carmencita: William Merritt Chase. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1906.
[3] Musser, Charles. Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company; p. 40. Berkeley - Los Angeles - Oxford: University of California Press, 1991.
[4]The Vaudeville Fad. New York: The New York Dramatic Mirror, volume XXXVI,913 - 27 June 1896; p.11, square brackets added.
Cast & CrewDirector:
William K.L. DicksonCinematographer:
William HeiseProducer:
William K.L. DicksonSelf Appearance:
Carmencita Production Company:
Edison Manufacturing CompanyDistribution Company:
Edison Manufacturing CompanyKino International (2005)
Links:
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This work is licensed under a
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