Jean-Claude SEGUIN

Bombay est la capitale de l'état du Maharashtra (Inde).


Le Cinématographe Lumière de Marius Sestier (Watson's Hotel/10 Esplanade Road, 7-25 juillet 1896)

bombay Watson's Hotel, Bombay in the 19th century
Watsons' Hotel (c. 1900). Bombay. Inde.

L'opérateur de la maison Lumière, Marius Sestier a obtenu la concession pour l'Inde et il arrive, à bord du Yarra, à la fin du mois de juin :

Monsieur Sestier, who arrived by the s.s. Yarra has brought to our city tle Cinematograph, the wonderful invention of Messrs August and Louis Limière [sic] of Lyons. This instrument is a wonderful improvement on the Edison Kinetoscope. We can see before it a moving panorama with living life size people.
The instrument is so perfect that it can both photograph as well as project scenes. A railway train arrives, the station master is moving about, the passengers hurry on the carriage doors open, the passengers get in or alight, etc., etc. The sea waves, the smoke that comes from a cigar or from some herbs that are burning, all this is faithfully reproduced to life and unlike the kinetoscope, is visible to as large an audience as required.
A public exhibition will shortly be given and we ins India will be able to see in work the instrument which gave a vivid life size realization of the Prince of Wales' Derby in one of the London Music Halls the same night as the historic event was run. Monsieur Sestier is open to private engagements.

The Advocate of India, Bombay, jeudi 2 juillet 1896.

La première a lieu quelques jours plus tard au Watson's Hotel.

1896 07 07 bombay gazette
The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, mardi 7 juillet 1896, p 2.

The Advocate of India offre, en deux temps, de nombreux détails de cette inauguration :

"Wonders never cease," was the trite remark that was expressed last night by one of the audience that had assembled at Watson's Hotel to see the "Cinematograph" exhibition which Mons. Sestier was giving. Human ingenuity has controlled wind and wave, mind has made matter subservient to it and science has made most things possible. We must surely be coming within measurable distance of ruling the elements. The search for the Philosopher's Stone has long been abandoned as a serious pursuit, but practical scientific researches have gone on apace, and in this century of ours we have come within an ace of aerial journeys on artificial wings. Two researches in science, however, have long baffled scientists, on was -I say was advisedly, for the fact has been accomplished-the reproduction of sound, an the other that of action. That marvel of modern invention, Edison, overcame the matter of reproducing sound, and from the Phonograph we may now hear the voices of the dead and the living, stored up on little rollers that will give back at will the sound that was breathed into them, with unerring precision. Edison next turned his genius to the reproduction of action, the task proving more difficult for the reason that the retina of the human eye takes in scenes at the rate of thirty distinct actions to the second. Taking. the Zooetrope for the basis of his work, the great inventor was able to attain his object by revolving pictures photographed on pin heads and a drum at the rate of 1,000 to the minute, to reproduce human action to life. The "Kinetoscope" soon after made its appearance and proved only to be the forerunner to a more. perfected machine. In the "Kinetoscope" the pictures were very minute and detracted from the reality of the scene, but the" Cinematographe" projects the scenes. on to a screen life-size, the pictures having living, moving action.
A scene in Hyde Park is wonderfully realistic, so much so that one feels impelled to rush across and join the merry party that are assembling on the walk. A group of ladies are first observed; presently a gentleman, with every indication of pleasure, hurries across the ride and joins them, the meeting being most cordial, anon equestrians canter up, dismount and join the merry group "Sweet seventeen," on a bicycle next, comes along, and tripping gracefully off her bike, joins the party. The scene is so realistic that one is transported to London and the Park, forgetting for a while that Bombay harbour lies beyond the place of entertainment. The arrival of a train is another most interesting scene. The living panorama is true to every detail. The engine appears small as it rounds the corner and increases in size till it scenes to be rushing upon the audience. The passengers enter and leave the carriage in various degrees of speed, and the bustle and confusion is there just as we have realized it times without number. The old traveller taking things cooly, the prentice hand pushing aside everyone else in his eagerness not to be left behind-all are depicted for our delight. One of the best scenes is "Leaving the Factory." The gates open, and at once the human stream flows out; no one seems to have time to talk, all seem in a desperate hurry to get home. The variety of costume, the disparity of ages, are all vividly brought out, and to vary the monotony of the human exodus, at intervals a bicyclist wheels his machine to the gate, mounts and wobbles off in the midst of the crowd. The rushing-out of a brougham and pair, bearing the master of the factory home, causes a momentary stoppage of the human flow, and then it rushes on again faster, faster, as the moments fly, all eager to earn the sweets of rest after honest toil. We shall look forward to the development of Messrs. Lumiere's Cinematograph, when sound will be added to motion and we can sit out here in Bombay and hear an Opera which has erstwhile been performed in Covent Garden. Edison is perfecting such a machine and we shall hail its advent with delight.

The Advocate of India, Bombay, mercredi 8 juillet 1896.

Il semble pourtant que l'exigüité de la salle pose des problèmes pour une projection correcte et le responsable envisage de changer de lieu :

THE evening exhibitions of "living" photographic pictures by means of the cinematograph at Watson's Hotel continue to be so well patronized that Messrs. Lumiere Brothers have decided, in response to numerous requests, to engage the Novelty Theatre for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next. Each evening there will be two exhibitions, the first at 6-30, and the last at 9-30, and twelve views will be shown each time. The decision is a wise one, for the cinematographe cannot be worked to advantage in a small room. The pictures have been well worth seeing, but he science effect will be greatly enhanced when the exhibition is given in the Novelty Theatre, and the opportunity of seeing one of the latest scientific marvels of the age should not be lost.

[Bombay Gazette], [vendredi 10 juillet 1896].

Les dernières séances au Watson's Hotel ont lieu, provisoirement le lundi 13 juillet.

Bombay Gazette, Bombay, lundi 13 juillet 1896.

Après une inauguration ratée au Novelty Theatre, le cinématographe est de retour au Watson's Hotel, le 16 juillet. Pendant quelques jours (18, 20, 22 et 25 juillet) des séances sont organisées avant que le cinématographe ne revienne définitivement au Novely Theatre.

Répertoire (autres titres) : Entry of Cinematographe, Arrival of a Train, The Sea Bath, A Demolition, Leaving the Factory, Ladies and Soldiers on Wheels (The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, mardi 7 juillet 1896, p 2), Baby's Dinner, Rejoincing in the Market Place. Paris, The Street Dance of London, The Diver, Turning the Soup-plate by Trewey, A Match at Cards (The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, vendredi 10 juillet 1896, p. 4).

Le cinématographe Lumière de Marius Sestier (Novelty Theatre, 14 juillet-15 août 1896)

Marius Sestier déplace son cinématographe vers le Novelty Theatre où les conditions de projection semblent meilleures. The Advocate of India publie un compte rendu de l'inauguration :

Notwithstanding the stormy state of the elements, a fairly large audience assembled at the Novelty Theatre last evening to witness the first public exhibition of the Cinematographe. Those who have seen the wonderful instrument at work at Watson's Hotel are loud in praise of this marvellous invention and realised how easily it could be manipulated. Yesterday, however, it was at once apparent that something was wrong. After one or two attempts to throw the living pictures on the screen the exhibition was abandoned, and Mr. Soundy informed the audience that owing to some defect in the electric plant the entertainment would have to be given up. The plant is the property of the Novelty Theatre and was found by their engineer to be in a defective state, unhappily too late for remedy before the performance. Owing to this circumstance M. Seister [sic] has been obliged to postpone his exhibitions at the Theatre to the corresponding days next week when the audience may rely on the arrangements being most satisfactory. Meanwhile the exhibitions at Watson's Hotel will be continued at the advertised hours. Mons. Seister has our sympathies, as we feel sure his exhibitions would have proved most successful at the Theatre; but as the dates are only changed, we trust a large audience will attend.

The Advocate of India, Bombay, mercredi 15 juillet 1896, p.

Pour sa part, l'autre journal local, The Bombay Gazette dresse le même constat de cette inauguration ratée : 

AFTER braving the heavy rain that swept over the city at sunset, the audience which assembled at the Novelty Theatre, last evening, to see the effects produced by the cinematographe was doomed to disappointment. To those present who had seen the views at Watson's Hotel, it was evident from the first that something was wrong, as the photographs came up very dimly and uncertainly. After two views had been shown, Mr. Soundy came forward and explained that owing to the damp having got into the instrument it was impossible to proceed further with the exhibition that evening. He expressed the regret of the exhibitors, and informed the audience that they could either have the money returned at the door or could come again another evening. Most of those present preferred to take the former course, but everyone left in a good temper, and were ready to condole rather than blame the unfortunate exhibitors in their experience of the effect of the Indian monsoon on scientific instruments.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, mercredi 15 juillet 1896, p. 4.

Les problèmes d'approvisionnement en flux électrique sont fréquents au début du cinématographe et Marius Sestier va donc revenir au Watson's Theatre, repoussant à la semaine suivante les projections au Novelty Theatre :

THE cinematographe, having had so bad a time of it at the Novelty Theatre, owing to the electric light plant being out of order, has returned to its old love. Its operators will show what it is capable of at Watson's Hotel, each evening, at 7, 9-15, and 10 p.m., and an entirely new programme of photographic pictures is to be given. Arrangements are being made to ensure an adequate supply of the electric light, so there is no fear of a repetition of Tuesday evening's failure.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, jeudi 16 juillet 1896, p. 4.

Ces difficultés sont finalement résolues et dès le 14 juillet, le cinématographe s'installe désormais de façon définitive - exception faite d'une séance organisée au Watson's Hotel le 25 juillet - au Novelty Theatre comme le signale The Bombay Gazette :

THE difficulties which beset the production of living pictures by the Cinematographe when it was first placed on the stage of the Novelty Theatre, have now been obviated, and the exhibitions that have taken place in the theatre this week have been quite successful. Amongst the more recent of the photographic pictures presented may be mentioned a view of the old harbour at Marseilles, which no doubt people who are leaving by the Caledonia to-day are hoping to see in reality in less than a fortnight; "a Match at Trick Track,"; "Burning the Rubbish," a process which is participated in by a very attractive young lady; and "Watering the Garden." In the latter scene a boy plays the gardener the trick of treading on the hose, and when the man looks at the plug, removes his foot, and the water is squirted on the gardener's face. For this prank the youth is chased round the garden, and caught and punished. The operatives leaving the factory at Berlin walk out in a way that it would not be seen at Manchester or Bolton, where it is not the custom for the men to leave the female operatives to walk home by themselves. "A Foggy Day in London" and "the Cinematographe in London" are both very good views of the many-sided life of the great metropolis. The Cinematographe will be exhibited again to-night, at 6-30 and 9-30 p.m., the programme being different on each occasion.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, vendredi 24 juillet 1896, p. 6.

UN nouvel article offre quelques informations sur le répertoire du cinématographe :

BY desire of a large number of residents, who, in spite of bad weather, have gone to see the Lumiere cinematographe, the patentee has obtained a fresh lease of the Novelty Theatre for a few more nights, and we strongly recommend our readers to go and see this living photography for themselves. The electric installation at the Novelty Theatre is more than sufficient for the purpose, a powerful arch having been placed at the entrance of the Theatre also. The 24 views which are exhibited every evening (12 at a time) are all highly interesting, and every one of them excites the enthusiasm of the audience. They include the Serpent ; Arrival of a train ; Sea Bathers ; London girl dancers ; Watering the Garden ; Baby's Dinner ; the Photographer ; Champs Elysees ; Paris Cyclists and Equestrians ; Hyde Park sea and rocks ; the Cologne Express ; Parade of the Guard ; Pratical [sic] Joke ; Transformation Hats, etc. We learn that new views are to be added to the programme each evening.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, lundi 27 juillet 1896, p. 6.

Comme cela est habituellement organisé, Marius Sestier met en place une séance de bienfaisance pour les enfants d'un orphelinat :

MR. SEISTER, who is showing the cinematographe each evening, at the Novelty Theatre, has kindly consented to allow the children of the Scottish Orphanage to see his moving pictures free of charge.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, mercredi 29 juillet 1896, p. 4.

Il organise, peu après, une nouvelle séance pour un autre orphelinat :

THE CINEMATOGRAPHE. - Professor Lumiere, of the Cinematographe, has granted pass for free admission of the boys of the J.N. Petit Parsi Orphanage to his exhibitions on the 30th and 31st instant and 1st and 3rd August.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, jeudi 30 juillet 1896, p. 3.

Au début du mois d'août, le cinématographe propose toujours des vues animées au Novelty :

ALTHOUGH this wonderful invention has been on view in Bombay for some weeks now it continues to draw fairly good audiences night after night at the Novelty Theatre. The exhibitions are at 6-30 and 9-30 each evening, except Saturdays and Wednesdays, when the exhibition is at 6-30 only. Perhaps one of the most lifelike views is that of "Babies' quarrels," in which two very little girls, tied in their chair, cannot see eye to eye in regard to the distribution of the jam supply. The manner in which the changes of the countenance of the youngsters are transferred to the canvas is little short of marvellous. The arrival of the train - one of the few views which are forthcoming a second time when "encore" is cried - is also very cleverly shown, the increase in the size of the train as it gets apparently nearer and nearer to the spectator being especially noticeable. The "Vaulting Lesson" and the "Robber Clown" both bring to mind the circus ring, while "The Landing Stage" is a very accurate representation of the scene of hustle and confusion which can be observed at any of the numerous landing stages on the scene. Paris shares with London a good part of the views, but phases of rural life are by no means ignored. Twelve pictures are shown at each exhibition, and there is a change of programme on each occasion.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, samedi 8 août 1896, p. 5.

Afin de relancer l'intérêt des spectacteurs, l'opérateur fait appel à des musiciens pour agrémenter les séances :

We are glad to notice that Monsieur Seister, [sic] who is exhibiting the Cinematographe, has decided to give three special performances, at which music will be interspersed with the pictures. This is no doubt a move in the right direction, and we have no doubt it will make the entertainment more attractive than ever. That brilliant pianist, Mr. Dove, will preside at the piano.

The Times, Bombay, samedi 8 août 1896.

Quelques séances supplémentaires sont encore organisées vers la mi-août :

IT has often been suggested that the exhibitions of the Cinematographe might be made even more attractive than they are if they were interspersed with some other form of entertainment. This suggestion has not escaped the notice of the proprietor, who has decided to give three special exhibitions this week, to be interspersed with music, under the direction of Mr. F. Seymour Dove. [At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 20 views at each. 6-30 p.m. exhibitions each evening as usual.]

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, 11 août 1896, p. 4.

1896 08 11 novelty cinematographe 1896 08 13 novelty cinematographe
Times Bombay Gazette, Bombay, 13 août 1896

Les dernières séances ont lieu peu après :

THE first of the series of special exhibitions of the Cinematographe at the Novelty Theatre, on Tuesday evening, was a distinct success. The selections of music played under the direction of Mr. F. Seymour Dove were appropriate to the views exhibited, and added not a little to the realistic character of the spectacle presented on the canvas. No less than twenty views were exhibited, and the show must be pronounced the best M. Sestier has yet given in Bombay. The second of the series of special exhibitions will take place this evening, and the last to-morrow. The 6-30 p.m. exhibitions will be given each evening.

The Bombay Gazette, Bombay, 13 août 1896, p. 5.