FUN IN A BUTCHER SHOP (1901)
Article 4107 by Dave Sindelar
What it is: Sausage machine
Butchers buy animals and turn them into sausage with their handy sausage machine. But they don’t stop at animals…
When I first got this movie, it was suggested I check out the synopsis from the original Edison catalog on IMDB to clarify some of the action. Though I originally didn’t think the action needed clarification, I’m glad I did. Basically, a curious man is also tossed into the machine, which took the science fiction aspects of this short and pushed it in the direction of horror. What I didn’t notice and what the synopsis clarified was two points. First, the curious man is supposed to be a Chinaman. The second is that after he is thrown into the machine, what emerges is not sausages, but rats. These two facts, taken together, point to a truly ugly racism underlying the short, a fact which pretty much curdled any enjoyment I would have gotten from it. That’s one of the perils of delving into other periods of time; you find yourself occasionally confronted with some modes of thinking that are hard to stomach.