The Automatic Moving Company: 1912 Stop-Motion Jaunt

The Automatic Moving Company
Is it manual?

From 1912, this is an incredibly early example of stop-motion. A French production, its title is Le garde-meubles automatique. Or Mobilier fidèle’ (one or the other).

It’s actually quite difficult to find the full information on it. But Émile Cohl (1857-1938) was the director. And here it is in action.

The Automatic Moving Company

1912 is one of those years we just stop and think, “Cripes.”

So long ago. Yet, so very recent. Human society wasn’t overly unusual just over 100 years back. Yet, we have little relation to it. Other than relations. But if you know anyone still alive from 1912… that’s pretty remarkable.

As is this production from Émile Cohl, which is a very short film. But an astonishingly meticulous display of stop-motion film making.

Now, as much as films are a part of modern life… the medium hasn’t been around very long. At all. It’s only become a major deal since the 1920s (arguably).

Obviously, there’s not much to say about the film. It’s about a bunch of furniture that rearranges itself.

What matters is the knowledge we have (especially now) of how much effort goes into this sort of thing. Whether it’s Gogs or The Wrong Trousers, it’s an incredible undertaking.

It’s hellishly time-consuming. Requires a lot of patience. And in 1912 was relatively unknown as anything.

We’re not going further into that as we’d need 10,000 words on the origins of stop motion.

But the point for us is this film sets many roots for what we see now. The aesthetic is there. It looks amazing. You’re astonished by it. How did it happen?

Well, again, there’s little mention. But its technical accomplishments as an early stop-motion film are incredible.

So in that respect it’s remarkable. But there’s just very little we know about its creation. And that makes us sad. Until we watch the film, then we’re happy again.

All we can say is think of the work involved here. The painstaking nature. Moving things by a fraction of an inch, then photographing it. That’s at around 10 shots per second.

Well, bon. If you were involved in the production we’re sure “Merde!” was bellowed a lot. But it’s now a cinematic marvel.

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