Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Trouble with Hats


Those Awful Hats (1909), directed by D.W.Griffith


Fantasmagorie (1908), by Émile Cohl

Movies as windows into the past. Both D.W.Griffith's Those Awful Hats and Émile Cohl's early animation Fantasmagorie feature jokes about something that was apparently a big problem for filmgoers a century ago: women's hats blocking the screen.

I think of the countless clever shorts played in American movie theaters (especially AMC) nowadays that tell the audience to turn off their cell phones--the Indians sneaking up on a herd of buffalo only to have it scared away by an obnoxious ringtone, the submarine whose presence is given away to the enemy--and I hope that someone will preserve them so that people will watch them a hundred years from now and laugh that we fussed so much about phone calls.

1 comment:

dave said...

My favorite of these cellphone movie PSAs would run before movies in Spain when I lived there 9 years ago. In a Die Hard With A Vengeance-style scenario, a bomb diffuser is at the red-wire-or-blue-wire moment of truth, when a cellphone goes off, ringing a few times. The bomb diffuser looks at the audience as he realizes its an audience member's cellphone, and the phone's third or fourth ring triggers the bomb's explosion. All the characters on screen die. I should try to track it down on YouTube.