ethnographic times

Workers leaving the Lumière factory
With this year’s EthnoFilmFest in Munich close (16 through 20 November 2011) I remembered some old associations.
    The above screenshot is taken from the 46 seconds short film “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory,” the first of a series of ten short films presented at the very first commercial screening of movies—on 28th December 1895 in Paris, at the Salon Indien du Grand Café. The short piece is a documentary film, or an ethnographic film—if you take ethnographic in the strict sense of the term.
    41 years later Chaplin brought “Modern Times” (1936) on the silver screen, which is downright cyberpunk. The opening title card reads:

“Modern Times.” A story of industry, of individual enterprise—humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness.

When the title card fades we are confronted with exactly the same sujet the Lumière brothers had chosen:
 
The opening shot of Chaplin's "Modern Times" (1936)

CHAPLIN, Sir CHARLES SPENCER. 1936. Modern times [motion picture]. Century City: United Artists.
LUMIÈRE, AUGUSTE MARIE LOUIS. 1895. La sortie des usines Lumière à Lyon [documentary short film]. Lyon: Lumière.
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