lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

B is for Alice Guy-Blaché – Visionary and First Female Film Director #AtoZ Challenge

Alice Guy-Blaché portrait picture, 1913, Apeda Studio New York

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Alice Ida Guy was born in France on July 1st, 1873 and died in the US on March 24th, 1968. Amazingly, she was the second person as well as the first woman to be a film director and writer of narrative fiction films.

In 1894, she started working as a secretary, hired by Léon Gaumont at a photography company. When they went bust, Gaumont bought the company’s inventory and started a business that became a major motion-picture company in France.

Alice and Léon went to the Lumière event on March 22, 1895 where the first ever demonstration of film projection took place. It was at this event that Alice had a ‘light bulb’ moment of her own and realised the potential of film for fictional story-telling. She asked permission from Leon to make a film in her own time. This first film, made in 1896, and possibly the world’s first narrative film, was called La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), the humorous story of a woman growing children in a cabbage patch. The first fantasy and comedy film. Her career had started.

Probably the only female film-maker until 1906, Alice became Gaumont’s head of production. She was the first film-maker to consistently develop narrative films, became a pioneer in the use of audio recordings in conjunction with images, and was innovative in her use of some of the first special effects. She was clearly a fount of original ideas and inspiration.

In 1907 she married Herbert Blaché, resigned from her position at Gaumont and emigrated to the USA, and had two daughters while continuing to direct one to three films a week. (Also the original modern woman, then!) She handed control of her new film company, Solax, over to her husband – sadly, in the end, they went bust, possibly due to his mismanagement, but reports are mixed.

She divorced her Herbert (he had an affair) and returned to France, and never made a film again. Never remarrying, she returned to the United States in 1964 to stay with one of her daughters, and died in a nursing home at the age of 94.

By the end of her 25 year long career she had written, produced, directed, and overseen more than 700 films.

An extraordinary woman by any standards!

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The Beginning of Film

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Inside the projector

bulbs glow hot and bright,

flickering images animate,

snatch moments in the light,

 

outside the mighty sun shines

on real people in real roles,

living out the stories served

in dark on celluloid rolls,

 

they can’t see the future that

these first few viewers embrace

will one day hold us all enthralled

glassy-eyed and slack of face!

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© Liz Brownlee

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If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book, then press again on link to buy it!

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Facts:

Wikipedia

25 Comments

  1. Certainly a very extraordinary woman of her time. That’s a very interesting post Liz 🙂

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  2. She certainly was, and she looks much younger than the 40 years she would have been when the portrait was taken 🙂

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  3. She was one beautiful lady on top of her many talents. People need to look at France and Italy in this early part of the century for film since they we far ahead of the States. I have yet to see some of her films although I knew about her.

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    • We often watch French films with subtitles – they have a lot on Netflix over here, they are usually subtle, delightful and beautifully photographed.

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  4. Thea O'Brian

    Wow! She sounds terrific! So many talents. Thanks for sharing with us.
    http://enchantedfantasies.blogspot.com/

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  5. Such an elegant photograph of Alice Guy-Blaché. A marvelous sense of humor to write about growing children in a cabbage patch.

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    • She looks as if there is humour behind those eyes, doesn’t it?

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  6. Very interesting lady, Liz. I love love love the last stanza of your poem!

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    • Thank you, Susan! It was peculiarly hard to write, did it about 1,000 times so v. pleased to hear that!

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  7. jaishvats

    Very inspiring person…. Women achievers of the not so encouraging times give us a lot of valuable lessons about chasing our dreams
    B for brachiosaurus

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    • Yep – trouble is all our dreams nowadays may be scotched because the planet is not able to support them. I’m hoping for some sort of world domination that makes laws like for every new innovation there has to be Co2 mitigation X3!

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  8. outside the mighty sun shines
    on real people in real roles

    I love this.

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    • Thank you, Martha! I’m very pleased you said that.

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  9. Truly a woman extraordinaire! And she achieved so much at such a young age! This has left me inspired.

    Aditi

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    • Thank you, Aditi! I have also been inspired by the determination and talent of the women I’ve been writing about.

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  10. I knew about the cabbage patch movie, but I didn’t know it was directed by a woman!

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF – Weird Things in Folktales

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    • Hi, Tarka! Was it the origin of the cabbage patch dolls?

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  11. Your poem took me back 40 years, when I learned to wind a 35mm film onto a projector and show it to the youth club I ran then. Thos bulbs did indeed get very hot!

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    • They did indeed! The very earliest ones were probably much less efficient and even hotter.

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  12. An extraordinary woman indeed! Great post…very informative. 🙂

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  13. The poem is incredible. I purchased your book.
    Letter D, oh my the alphabet moves quickly.
    Hey, It’s Ann visiting from A to Z So Much to Choose From and
    Science Ladybug

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    • Thank you, and thank you, Anne. Hope you enjoy the book. We had fun writing it. I will visit you later, looks like in my other guise as wildlife poet I will enjoy your blog!

      Like

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