Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Onesime Clockmaker

Onesime horloger; silent comedy short, France, 1912; D: Jean Durand, S: Ernest Bourbon, Raymond Aimos, Berthe Dagmar

Onesime is disappointed when he gets a notice that he will inherit a fortune only after 20 years have passed. Since he cannot wait that long, Onseime goes to the central clock of the country and winds it up to run 20 times faster. Congruently, the whole country starts running 20 times faster, trying to keep up the pace with the clock. Onesime thus finally gets his inheritance much faster.

Jean Durand demonstrated that not only the US was capable of assembling 'tour-de-force' examples of slapstick comedies in the silent film era, and one his contributions was the anarchic, 8-minute short grotesque "Onesime Clockmaker" which follows a simple plot concept: fast forward. The basic concept in which the hero sets up the central clock to go 20 times faster, and thus causes people in the country to speed up and follow the fast pace, as to not "stay behind" time, is basically one giant "fast forward" which could have been developed much better, yet even in this edition, it has its moments, from the scenes of people practically running across the street, up the workers constructing a wall in only 40 seconds, or a man graduating and getting a diploma in only 20 seconds. This rush gives the main hero a mischievous tone, and a sly commentary on impatience, but also works fine as an almost experimental film, which paved the way for a bigger creativity in the film medium.


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