See the moving picture

FIGURE 8.20

The Reverse-Angle Prop

Ladies Skirts Nailed to a Fence / Womenís Rights

Bamforth and Company, Great Britain, 1900

In Shot 1, two women are talking in front of a fence; as they converse, a couple of boys pull the hems of their skirts through slats in the fence and nail them to the opposite side (Shot 2). The boys finish their gag and run off, and the women realize whatís happened (Shot 3). The direct cuts between Shots 1 and 2 and Shots 2 and 3 are not devised to accommodate any change in the scale of the objects being photographed, nor do they create or mask any discontinuity in the action. Moreover, the angle in Shot 2 is supposed to be a reverse angle on Shots 1 and 3. But note the vertical fence poles, which are clearly on the same side of the fence in Shot 2 as they are in Shots 1 and 3. We donít know why the anonymous director decided to move his actors from one side of the fence to the other rather than his camera. Nor are we entirely sure why he used male actors in drag to play the women, but one clue might lie in a Bamforth catalogue from 1899, which indicates that the film was originally released under the title Womenís Rights. Because lately discovered title cards suggest that the women are in fact discussing womenís rights (a hot topic in England at the time), we might speculate that the use of men in the female roles is an added dimension in a little misogynistic spoof of womenís-rights activism.

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