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Double feature

4 August 2010

The first commercial motion picture ever made  showed employees of the factory owned by  Auguste and Louis Lumière — who invented cinematography — leaving work the afternoon of 19 March 1895.  The brothers made a series of short films, demonstrating their new invention, with which they toured the world the next year.  Mexico City was not one of their stops, but amazingly, by mid 1896, Gabriel Veyre was also producing motion pictures.  Two of Veyre’s films were not only the first Mexican movies (making him, arguably, the first filmmaker in the Americas), but set two important precedents for the future, and not just of the film industry.

I’ve said before that Porfirio Díaz was, in many ways, ahead of his time. He was the first politician to appear in a moving picture… actually, one of the first people to appear in a motion picture, starring in what was something of a world-wide commercial success at the time… just for the novelty of the thing: El presidente Porfirio Díaz paseando en el Bosque de Chapultepec.  Thanks or no thanks to Don Porfirio — showing he was still fit enough to go for a morning ride at the age of 66 — and Gabriel Veyre, politicians and politics have been defined by the media image ever since.

Of course, then as now, images of violence sell.  Possibly filmed the same day as El presidente…, Veyre’s Un duelo a pisolas en el Bosque de Chapultepec was the first movie shoot-out, the first screen violence of any sort (and also set the precedence for foreigners who want to confuse fictional Mexican violence with every day life) .     I suppose if you’re one of those people who wants to blame Hollywood for a violent culture, and Mexicans for everything else you disapprove of, you can simplify your life and  just blame Gabriel Veyre.

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