That Fatal Sneeze (1907)

Article 4285 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-8-2013
Directed by Lewin Fitzhamon
Featuring Thurston Harris and Gertie Potter
Country: UK
What it is: Comic shenanigans

A nephew takes revenge on his uncle by putting pepper in his clothing, accessories, and grooming devices. The uncle then finds himself given to a succession of increasingly destructive sneezes.

One of the side issues I like to explore in my viewing project is to consider the bounds of genre content, and the Walt Lee guide gives some examples of movies that are interesting in that regard. Though it rejects a number of movies with things like fake ghosts, it also includes movies that might be rejected by other genre guides because the fantastic content falls within the bounds of the conventions of the movie’s primary genre. For example, it could be argued that most musicals are fantasies because people breaking out spontaneously in song is not realistic, while it could also be argued that such actions don’t really count as fantastic content because that’s simply the convention of the musical form. The same could be said about this short; though the idea that sneezes could cause this much destruction could make it qualify as a work of fantasy, it could also be dismissed as being within the limits of the convention of comic exaggeration. Still, when the sneezes get violent enough to cause earthquakes, the concept of comic exaggeration does get a little extreme. At any rate, this is a pretty amusing short that turns at least partially into a chase movie, though the chase is abandoned for the climax.

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