"Les Debut d'un patineur" (1907) is remarkable because Linder's confused snob appeared for the first time. When in his credits for the movie "Max et la doctoresse" appeared the following text: "written by Max Linder and played by the author". It was the first time in film history that there was mentioned an author in connection with a cinematic work.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
The cinematic development of slapstick comedy can be traced back to films such as Début d'un patineur. As Linder’s character flounders in his skates and later gets chased by a group of children who are far superior skaters than he is, the endless possibilities for this genre, particularly during the silent era, becomes readily apparent.
Even though it had been only a year since he filmed Début d'un patineur is a better orchestrated and funnier film. Most importantly it makes better use of the visual medium.
The opening shot of Début d'un patineur demonstrates the magnetic effect of Linder’s Parisian boulevardier persona. The camera focuses on a pathway in a busy park as various Parisians walk by. As Linder wanders into the shot, even from a distance his languorous movements draws the audience in. From Méliès Voyage Dans La Lune to Tait’s The Story of the Kelly Gang, many of the movies of this era relied on an ensemble cast to portray the film’s storytelling. Linder though, somehow manages to create a persona that captivates his audience almost single-handedly.
The decision to show the entire process of Linder’s journey, from entering the park up to attempting to skate, only adds to the humour of his skating antics. His character clearly stands out among the usual skaters, and the look of bemusement of the men renting the skates is shared by the audience. It is in these scenes where Linder’s brilliance truly shines. There is embellishment that does not slip into exaggeration, everything is measured.