Seminary Girls (1897)
Director: James H. White
This 30 second short from the Edison studio takes the audience into the dormitory of a group of young teen girls dressed in long white nightgowns as they engage in a lively pillow fight. They appear to be having a scream, which is reason enough for a matron to come charging in to try and restore order. The girls scatter to the four corners of the dorm and the matron grabs the ankle of one girl who’s attempting to crawl under the bed.
Although Seminary Girls is a short and simple film, there’s an undeniable element of voyeuristic titillation in the way it observes a domain forbidden to the average male (although I’m willing to bet that the ‘matron’ who intrudes on the girls’ fun is actually a man in a woman’s dressing gown), and it no doubt had a few male members of the audiences stroking their waxed moustaches in appreciation.
Seminary Girls is a lively film for its era but, as was common with these early movies, the action isn’t choreographed which means it’s difficult to follow everything that’s going on. But then, at thirty seconds it’s not as if we’re going to lose the thread of the story, now, is it?
(Reviewed 5th August 2014)