Off to Bloomingdale Asylum (1901)

aka L’omnibus des toques blancs et noirs
Article 3171 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-18-2010
Posting Date: 4-20-2010
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Bizarre little trick film

Four black men turn white when they are knocked off an omnibus by a mechanical horse. They turn themselves black again, then white again, then black, and merge into one fat black man, which then….

The black men are white men in blackface, so you know that this Melies short wouldn’t fly today. According to one source, they’re being transported to an asylum, but they probably got that from the English title; the French title doesn’t appear to have any words that reflect an asylum at all. It’s surreal, quick, and fun.

CORRECTION: According to doctor kiss at CHFB, the word ‘toques’ above more or less classifies the characters as “madmen”, and the world “Charenton” on the omnibus is a reference to a French asylum. So, I stand corrected.


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