A Sea Cave Near Lisbon (1896)
The water beats relentlessly against the Hell's Mouth (Boca do Inferno), one of the main natural attractions of Lisbon's west coast, filmed from above almost in a vertical plunge onto the deep, rocky ground.
Country United Kingdom
Genre Documentary, Short
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Sea Cave Near Lisbon, A (1896)
Michael Brooke | BFI Screenonline | www.screenonline.org.uk | English
In summer 1896, R.W. Paul gave his colleague Henry William Short his latest invention, an unusuall portable film camera, and commissioned a series of films that was eventually screened as the fourteen-part Tour in Spain and Portugal on 22 October.
Right from the start, A Sea Cave Near Lisbon (shot at the mouth of the Boca do inferno cave) was singled out for its pictorial qualities, which were highlighted in Paul's catalogue as "a very striking and artistic photograph of a large cave near the Atlantic coast, into which waves dash with great violence". Film historian John Barnes quoted the newspaper The Era (31 October), which said that it was:
one of the most beautiful realisations of the sea that we have ever witnessed. The foam-crested waves rush into the recesses of the rocks, clouds of spray are hurled into space, and the grandeur and beauty of the scene are remarkable.For the time, it is indeed a very impressive achievement, with the mouth of the cave acting as a frame for the central action: the waves breaking on the rocks. This was one of the first instances in early cinema of a creative approach towards framing a shot, and it is instructive to compare it with the previous year's Rough Sea at Dover (d. Birt Acres/R.W. Paul, 1895) to see how far both the aesthetics and technology of filmmaking had come in just over a year.
*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'R.W. Paul: The Collected Films 1895-1908', with music by Stephen Horne and optional commentary by Ian Christie.