Repas de bébé (1895)
Director: Louis Lumière
Cast: Auguste Lumière, Mrs. Auguste Lumière, Andrée Lumière
Repas de bébé must surely qualify as the world’s first home movie, albeit one that was filmed for commercial purposes and which formed part of the very first public film screening in Paris on 28th December 1895. It was shot by Louis Lumière in the spring of 1895 in the garden of the home of Auguste and Marguerite Lumière, and consists of August shovelling — or attempting to shovel — food into his little daughter’s mouth. The little girl’s name was Josephine Leocadie Andrée Lumiere, and she was just under a year old when the film was shot. As this is one of the earliest films ever made, it is of course fairly basic, but there’s a naturalism about it that is appealing. At one point August attempts to feed Andree a biscuit, but after making as if to munch on it herself, his daughter provides the movie’s big twist by offering it to someone off camera.
Looking at the baby girl and her parents in their garden on that long-ago morning, it’s only natural to assume that little Andrée would outlive her parents. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. She became one of the many victims of the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918, and died at the age of 24. August would live on for a further 36 years, while Marguerite would live until the age of 90, dying in Lyon on 25th June 1963.
(Reviewed 23rd July 2014)