See the moving picture


“Natural Sequences of events”

Both of these short films—Derby of 1895 (left) and Rough Sea at Dover—were shot by Birt Acres in 1895. The first English reviewers applauded both for their “realism,” and stories soon developed around Rough Sea at Dover much like those inspired by the Lumières’ Arrivée d’un train en gare à la Ciotat (see Chapter 2): “The waves,” reported one daily newspaper,

dashed against the breakwater; the spray seemed to start out of the picture, and those who stood near the screen appeared to be in imminent danger of being wetted. A few people were observed dodging the flying foam.

Both films were also among the first English films to be seen outside England: Derby was shown at a press screening to introduce the Armat-Edison vitascope on 4 April 1896, and Rough Sea was on the program at Koster & Bial’s on 23 April (see Figure 1.29 and Figure 1.31). The scene of “storm-tossed waves breaking over a pier on the beach at Dover,” reported Thomas Armat, “was totally unlike anything an audience had ever before seen in a theater.”

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