LES VICTIMES DE L’ALCOHOLISME (1902)
aka Alcohol and Its Victims
Article 4956 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Ferdinand Zecca
What it is: Social conscience movie
A well-to-do man lives a happy life with his happy family. Then he discovers alcohol…
There’s a point in the print that I saw of this movie in which we see the alcoholic’s family reduced to living in a squalid freezing hovel. Suddenly we see the alcoholic himself lying prone on the floor; he wasn’t in the scene at all previously. It’s obviously a jump cut, and we’re missing a bit of the film. I will return to this observation shortly.
Given that I’m watching these movies for their fantastic content, I wasn’t really surprised to find a movie about alcoholism pop up; after all, the concept does lend itself to using fantastic content. In particular, if the movie deals with the alcoholic going through the D.T.s, the hallucinatory images would give us an opportunity for fantastic content. And, as luck would have it, this silent short does have a scene where the main character undergoes the D.T.s while in a padded cell. However, in terms of fantastic content, this scene is very disappointing; though it’s obvious the man is hallucinating, we, the viewing audience, do not see what he’s seeing, and to my mind, that disqualifies the movie in terms of fantastic content. However, since there is some footage missing (as mentioned above), there is a possibility there could have been in there. Still, I find that highly unlikely; if they didn’t take advantage of the D.T.s sequence for that content, they probably didn’t for a scene where the man drunkenly enters a room and falls down, which is what I imagine is in the missing footage. As a result, in terms of fantastic content, I have to classify this one as a false alarm. As an expose of alcoholism, there’s little in the way of surprises, but I wouldn’t really expect any in a five minute movie.