Querelle enfantine (1896)
Director: Louis Lumière
Cast: Andree Lumière
Synopsis: “Two babies are shown seated in high chairs and apparently enjoying themselves. Suddenly one snatches a toy from the other, and they indulge in hair-pulling.”
Little Andree Lumière gets another shot at stardom in Querelle enfantine, but we discover here that she’s not quite the angelic little tyke she would have had us believe in Repas de bebe (1895). In that movie we saw her generously offering her biscuit to an off-screen observer, but in Querelle enfantine we see the dark side of Andree as she bullies hapless little sister Suzanne into relinquishing her precious spoon. Poor little Susanne is inconsolable at the loss and cries lustily much to the concern of her sister. Andree makes a half-hearted attempt to console Suzanne anyway, but it’s hopeless; the floodgates have opened, and once a baby’s in full flow it’s best just to let things run their course. From the way Andree casts a furtive glance about her, it’s a fair bet that she’s attempting to gauge just how much trouble she might be in for causing her sister such distress, suggesting that her effort at comforting Suzanne was also an attempt to save herself from a telling off.
Querelle enfantine is quite an enjoyable watch. It’s short and to the point, and all human life is here when you think about it, encapsulated in the typically rambunctious interaction of baby siblings: envy, greed, desire, sadness, triumph, joy and tears — what more could you ask for from a movie?
Well, alright: maybe an explosion or two…
(Reviewed 25th July 2014)