1896 Film: Loie Fuller’s Psychedelic Serpentine Dance

Via VictorianGothic.org:

This 1896 Lumière Brothers film captures a performance of Loïe Fuller’s “Serpentine Dance.” No, there was no LSD in the 1890′s, but yes, there were colorized films. In the technique used above, each frame was individually hand-tinted using stencils and colored dyes. It was a laborious, manual process, and it was first employed to recreate Loïe Fuller’s stage magic; acclaimed for its early use of chromatic theatrical lights that illuminated the dancer’s flowing white silk.

On a visit to Notre Dame, Fuller became enthralled by the kaleidoscopic light that shone through the cathedral’s stained glass windows. She lost herself in a bedazzled reverie, catching the colors upon a white handkerchief that she waved through the air…and was promptly taken for crazy and escorted out of the building. For Fuller, color possessed a natural harmony that could be honed into new art form, in the same way that sound had been transformed sound into music. “Colour,” she wrote, “so pervades everything that the whole universe is busy producing it, everywhere and in everything … The day will come when man will know how to employ them so delightfully that it will be hard to conceive how he could have lived so long in the darkness in which he dwells to-day.”

To this end, she developed new compounds and techniques for stage lighting for which she held numerous patents. She was a member of the French Astronomical Society, and a friend to Marie Curie, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and countless other French artists, scientists and intellectuals. Some of the most well-respected members of the French creative class featured her in their work, and through her performances she became a prominent figure in the Art Nouveau movement.

[Full Article at Victorian Gothic]

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  • Dutchie

    Very nice, but if you go to all the trouble of digitalizing a film from 120 years ago why not play it at the right speed? This always baffles me. Back then they surely didn’t play it at this speed.

  • Dutchie

    Very nice, but if you go to all the trouble of digitalizing a film from 120 years ago why not play it at the right speed? This always baffles me. Back then they surely didn’t play it at this speed.

    • PointingOut

      I think everyone just moved faster back then.

      • Dutchie

        Does that mean they will catch up with us sometime?

        • Haystack

          Yes. In fact, the reason they were moving so fast was that they were trying to outpace even quicker people who lived before them. 

  • DeepCough

    This is like a 19th century screensaver.

  • DeepCough

    This is like a 19th century screensaver.

  • Anonymous

    I think its beautiful. The color changes looked better than most modern CGI.

  • Redacted

    I think its beautiful. The color changes looked better than most modern CGI.

  • PointingOut

    I think everyone just moved faster back then.

  • Dutchie

    Does that mean they will catch up with us sometime?

  • justagirl

    plz.  i can do that backwards..

  • justagirl

    plz.  i can do that backwards..

  • Haystack

    Yes. In fact, the reason they were moving so fast was that they were trying to outpace even quicker people who lived before them.