First Prize for Cello (1907)

Every once in a while I come across a film that is often forgotten. I remember many years ago when I stumbled upon this little film from France. I had never come across it before in all my film research, (i.e. searching like a maniac for any film I could find from the beginning of film), but once I found it I have never forgotten it.

As you can see from the link above, this is a clever little film. A film that you cannot help but smile at. It’s a very simple story. A man plays a cello in a town square, but everyone hates his playing except for one little girl who gives him flowers. There is something profound about it. I am sure it has to do with the innocence of a child and how they can see the beauty in things when others cannot. Of course, one could look at this film and say the girl just gave him flowers to shut him up, but I like to think she actually liked his music.

It’s a comedy film employing physical comedy to the max. Those actors were really throwing all those things at the cellist, and while some things obviously fell behind him, there was always a risk for those things actually smacking him right in the head! So there is something special about this film because of that. A sense of reality, even if the film itself is absolutely absurd.

Yet why was it forgotten? I have never seen this film listed in any list or book about the first two decades of film. Information on the film is scarce. We don’t even know who directed the thing! I will say, however, that this is a charming little film. Perhaps it doesn’t deserve a place on a greatest films list, but it does deserve a place in film history books. Most early films played out like a filmed stage play, so this film is no different than other popular films of the early 1900s in that regard.

Have you ever created something that people didn’t understand? You wait for people to get it but they just don’t? You think all your hard work was in vain until that one person comes along who just gets what you were doing? I think that’s what this film is about. The cellist may not have won over the townspeople, but he was able to win over one heart, and in the end that’s all that mattered.

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