I have a back-to-school post! Readers may remember my posts about the History of Landscape course I took last semester at the University of Maryland (as a free-tuition retiree – yay!). As on-topic as that course was for this blog, the course I’m taking this semester seemed unlikely to produce a single garden-blog post. But I’m glad I didn’t bet money on that.
The course, in the Film Studies Department, is “The Silent Era,” and began with a short about watering the garden.
That’s because the first public screening of a film at which admission was charged (on December 28, 1895 at a high-class Parisian brothel) was by the Lumière brothers and the 10 short movies shown included “The Sprinkler Sprinkled.”
According to one source:
The world’s 1st comedy, “The Sprinkler Sprinkled” was shot in Lyon in the spring of 1895. The film portrays a simple practical joke in which a gardener is tormented by a boy who steps on the hose that the gardener is using to water his plants, cutting off the water flow. When the gardener tilts the nozzle up to inspect it, the boy releases the hose, causing the water to spray him. The gardener is stunned and his hat is knocked off, but he soon catches on. A chase ensues, both on and off-screen (the camera never moves from its original position) until the gardener catches the boy and administers a spanking. Louis Lumière used his own gardener, François Clerc, to portray the gardener.
The professor showed us several examples of this joke in print in that era, calling it a meme of the era. So as the first filmmakers were looking for subjects, it’s no surprise that they settled on this popular joke.