The Cabbage Fairy

silent. 1896. 57 seconds.

Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1986) the daughter of a bookseller spent her childhood in Switzerland, Chile and France. She went on to study typing and shorthand and was later hired by Léon Gaumont’s photographic company in France. In 1895, she accompanied Gaumont to an invited demonstration of the 35mm camera by the Lumiere Brothers. She borrowed Gaumont’s camera and at a time people were filming street scenes, she set out to write, film, and direct a fictional piece depending on her ‘amateur’ explorations in theatre and amazement for the craft. La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), is a folktale very similar to the birds and bees and stork stories that adults have been spinning for ages for children who can’t resist to ask, ‘Where do babies come from?’ It released in 1896, evidently making her the first woman motion picture director, and sold amazingly 80 copies. On that note, a wonderful book to explain ‘sex and babies’ to children (click on image to see in flipkart.com) –

Some reading – 

The Rise and Fall of Alice Guy-Blaché – an informative biography of the filmmaker posted in a rather fantastic blog on feminism and film, Alice in Action.
Alice Guy Blaché: The Research and Books of Alison McMahan – a very important collection of resources on the filmmaker, the research on which the biography mentioned above is largely based on, but some dates differ.
Color in the Movies – Part 2 – the Chronochrome – a good essay on one of Léon Gaumont’s major inventions and significant contributions to the world of cinema in a very coherent blog on early talkies ‘Talkie King’ by Jonas Nordin.
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