Jean-Claude SEGUIN

Jersey est une île anglo-normande dont la capitale est Sainte-Hélène (Grande-Bretagne).

Les Animated Photographs de David Devant (Oddfellows Hall, 13 juin 1898)

Depuis le mois d'août 1896, David Devant, le célèbre magicien, a organisé une entreprise afin de distribuer et présenter des films en Grande-Bretagne. Il peut compter, à partir du milieu de l'année 1897 sur plusieurs collaborateurs dont son propre frère, Ernest Wighton. C'est d'ailleurs ce dernier qui est responsable de la soirée organisée au Oddfellows Hall le lundi 13 juin 1898. Il s'agit d'une formule classique où les vues animées sont combinées avec d'autres numéros de music-hall et de prestidigitation :

There is certainly much to interest, amuse, and entertain in the grand cinematographic exhibition opened the Oddfellows' Hall Monday evening, and which runs for the remaining nights this week—with an afternoon performance to-morrow. The selection of some 40 pictures is admirably varied, and altogether, two hours’ unalloyed pleasure is provided. The mere fact that this series of “Animated Photographs” is an exhibited at Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke’s Egyptian Hall (London) provides a guarantee of excellence in itself; and indeed it claimed “no expense has been spared to obtain the best and finest results.” Those present last evening included Lady Otway (who was accompanied by Miss Pipon), Col and Mrs. H. Dove, Deputy and Mrs. Duret Aubin, &c., and, judging by the frequent outbursts of applause, the entertainment was very keenly appreciated, and should draw crowded houses during the week. The collection of pictures opens with “The Piccaninny’s Bath,” which created much amusement; then come realistic representations of a "Fire Brigade Call” and “Stables on Fire” with rescue of horses; “A Warm Corner in Cold Quarters” (snow balling a cyclist), and a natural domestic scene yclept “Baby’s Breakfast” which charmed one and all. “The Spanish Bull-Fight" conveys at least an impression of this brutalising so-called sport; while “The Death of Nelson” is admirably reproduced, as also is “The Last Leave-Taking of Charles 1.,” another memorable event in England’s history. “The Twins’ Tea-Party” is truly described a study in expression; while “Changing Guard at St. James’s Palace” exactly depicts this interesting ceremony. Good, too, is “The Doomed Chimney,” showing the burning of the supports and the fall of the bricks-and-mortar giant; while “A Study in Black and White," or a fight between miller and sweep, is laughable the extreme. Having seen “’Pedlar Palmer Boxing,” the audience is shown the Empire State (American) express travelling the rate of 60 miles an hour, a speed which the lecturer (Mr. Maurice Victor) assures them is rarely exceeded, even on the Jersey railways! Then comes what we are inclined to adjudge the gem of the series from its novelty and originality of conception. This is mysteriously entitled “The Phantom Ride—A Weird Spectacle," and, as in taking this photograph the camera was placed on the front of an engine travelling 50 miles an hour, the result can better imagined than described. Suffice it to say the imaginary traveller—for a very realistic sensation is produced-is taken whizzing past grand scenery, under bridges, and finally through tunnel. "The Launching of a Battleship" shows the mighty leviathan gliding off the stocks; A "Double Barrelled Fight” represents an amusing duel; then we see “The Anglo-Australian Cricket (test) Match,” with the redoubtable “Ranji’’ and Hayward at the wickets. Next came “A Game of Cards” or quarrelsome spirits quenched with water-hose; a lively picture of Soudanese diving; “Life below Water," or the denizens of a tank; and cavalry men and horses swimming a river. The “X-Rays” affords a startling exposition of the old adage that “Beauty is only skin deep," two lovers on a rustic seat being suddenly transformed into gibbering skeletons by Röntgen's system. A representation of the funeral procession of the late Mr William Ewart Gladstone, about which so much has already been said and written, concludes with a speaking portrait of the "Grand Old Man." The scenes from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Procession (with photograph of her Majesty) are simply excellent, all the gorgeous pomp of this glorious pageant being successfully reproduced –“to the life" as it were—these photos having been taken by Mr. Devant himself, by special permission. One misses promised features such “The Laboratory of Faust—A Weird and Ghostly Spectacle’’ and “The Gordon Highlanders on the March," however. The natural character of this high-class dioramic entertainment is enhanced by appropriate and carefully-timed sounds and effects -while entr'acte and incidental music is ably played by Mr. F. G. Hime on fine piano-organ. The operator at the cinematograph is Mr. Ernest Wighton, whose share of work is well done, though the pictures are still far from free from the blotches which have marred previous representations of like kind. Mr. Maurice Victor acceptably occupies intervals by demonstrating his skill alike as a conjuror and shadowgraphist. In his magical séance he performed some neat feats with billiard balls, large rings, and handkerchiefs, his incidental “explanations” and sallies being well received. His “shadow pictures" of birds, animals, &c., were too, wonderfully clever, especially the representations of swan and of a lady her dressing-table. Altogether, the entertainment is well worthy of patronage.

Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph, Jersey, 18 June 1898, 3.

Si l'article est particulièrement intéressant c'est qu'il détaille, d'une façon peu fréquente, le programme dont il donne une description détaillée. Les vues sont parfois même décrites avec précision. On retrouve ici comme dans d'autres villes la présence de Maurice Victor, le magicien, qui en l'occurrence est également bonimenteur puisqu'il commente les vues destinées aux spectateurs. Les dernières lignes rappellent que David Devant, tout en se consacrant à la prestidigitation, est aussi un cinématographiste. En revanche, il existe quelques doutes sur les films tournés à l'occasion du Jubilé de la Reine, dont il rappelle lui-même qu'il n'a pas pu les tourner... Quant à l'équipe, elle quitte Jersey au bout de quelques jours.