Bande dessinée and the Cinematograph

Visual Narrative in 1895

in European Comic Art
Author: Lance Rickman1
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  • 1 University of Essex
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The Lumière brothers' L'Arroseur arrosé ['The Sprinkler Sprinkled'] of 1895 was probably the first staged fiction film to be shown in public, but also the first cinematic adaptation of a comic strip, previous treatments of the subject including an Imagerie Quantin broadsheet by Hermann Vogel, a cartoon by Christophe in Le Petit Français Illustré and an illustrated sequence by Uzès in Le Chat Noir. What emerges from direct comparison is an appreciation of the sophisticated narrative devices that French comic illustrators employed by the 1880s, namely a dynamic combination of shot scales, angles and heights that still conforms to the diegetic demands of consistent spatial continuity. In short, these were the techniques that, perversely, would come to be known as 'cinematic'.


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