Après le bal (1897)    1 Stars


Apres le bal (1897)
Après le bal (1897)

Director: Georges Méliès

Cast: Jane Brady, Jeanne d’Alcy

Synopsis: The first film to ever show a nudity scene on screen is a simple presentation of a servant preparing a bath for another woman.  





Man, women wore a lot of clothes back in the 19th Century! No wonder the crusty madame here looks so fed up: I would, too, if I had to walk around in all that gear all day. Although this is a Georges Méliès movie, there are no special effects here. Instead we get what effectively amounts to the first cinematic striptease. I have to say that the lady performing the striptease isn’t exactly sylph-like; in fact, Rubenesque would be a more apt description. And although the intent of Après le bal must have been to provide some titillation for discerning gentlemen in the audience, there’s no real attempt at such. The disrobing is all very matter of fact, and the woman who removes her clothes wears a barely visible body stocking to preserve her modesty. Once again, though, an early film like Après le bal emphasises the voyeuristic quality of the camera and its relationship with the incidents recorded and projected on a screen. Its gaze is most definitely male… There’s no story to speak of. A well-to-do lady retires to her chamber after a ball. She’s accompanied by her maid as she disrobes ready for a stand-up bath. For some reason, the maid pours not water but what looks like dyed sand over her boss, or in fact attempts rather unsuccessfully to do so. Most of the sand misses its target and falls straight into the bowl in which the woman stands. It’s noticeable that the actress playing the maid glances at the camera in the final few frames, and speaks to the cameraman/director before the end of the film, as if to ask if he has indeed finished filming. An ok movie, but slightly underwhelming considering its subject matter. (Reviewed 6th August 2014)