The Twins’ Tea Party (1896)
Director: Robert W. Paul
Robert Paul is a largely forgotten name today, but he was a major pioneer of British cinema, and was quick to grasp the commercial potential of cinema in ways that better known pioneers such as William Friese-Greene were not. He was more of a mechanic than a filmmaker, making, with Birt Acres, his own camera on which to shoot films in 1895, and also Britain’s first projector, the Animatograph, with which to screen them in 1896. Early in the 20th century he had a custom-made studio built in Muswell Hill.
The Twins’ Tea Party is a very simple film shot on a bare set in which two little girls are sat at a table enjoying their tea party. One of the girls amuses herself by bashing her twin on the head, and you can imagine how that goes down with twin number two. Apparently contrite, twin number one then tries to kiss her sister’s head better. As girl-fights at parties go I’ve gotta say I’ve seen a lot better, but given the era it was filmed, this is OK. It was apparently such a hit in ’96 that Paul remade it in 1898, but that film no longer exists.
(Reviewed 14th June 2009)