Lumière and Company (1995)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Country: France / Denmark / Spain / Sweden
Director: Zhang Yimou, Wim Wenders, Yoshishige Yoshida, David Lynch, Spike Lee, and many more.
Producer: Angel Amigo, Anne Andreu

Cast: Zhang Yimou, Spike Lee, Jeffe Alperi, Romane Bohringer, Michele Carlyle, Lou Chapiteau

Running Time: 88 Min

Plot: 40 international directors were asked to make a short film using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumiere Brothers, working under conditions similar to those of 1895. There were three rules: (1) The film could be no longer than 52 seconds; (2) no synchronized sound was permitted; (3) no more than three takes. The results run the gamut from Zhang Yimou’s convention-thwarting joke to David Lynch’s bizarre miniature epic.

For the 100th anniversary of the Lumiere Brothers’ films, they brought together a collection of world filmmakers and had them make 40-some second films using the Lumiere Brothers’ original camera. How could 40 seconds be so boring? Many of the great filmmakers here acquit themselves in extremely uninspired ways. David Lynch does the most with his segment, and Spike Lee and Zhang Yimou put together some interesting bits, but Wim Wenders treads water (bringing in his characters from Wings of Desire and Faraway, So Close for a much shorter movie that’s just as boring as the others) and Theo Angepopolous, who consistently demands more credit than he deserves, hits rock bottom. Most of these films are just too boring to watch. They do however, go a long way towards proving how advances in film technology have often made possible more creative filmmaking.

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