CREATION DE LA SERPENTINE (1908)
aka The Beginning of the Serpentine
Article 5172 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
What is it: Dance movie with special effects
A fiddler is recruited by a devil to help in the formation of the dance known as the serpentine.
Fans of the very early days of cinema probably already know about the serpentine dance; it was featured prominently in several early movies. It consisted of a woman dressed in a long flowing robes with long sleeves waving her arms back and forth to cause the fabric to cascade in a very striking way; at times, the dancer almost seems to fade away beneath the illusion of flowing fabric. It’s easy to see why it was the subject of many early movies; it’s a visually striking dance. This short is a bizarre variation on the subject; it begins with a fiddler playing at a minute, but the entrance of another character (whom we find out is a devil) causes the dancers to vanish and the fiddler to be transported to his laboratory where he magically concocts the dance. The movie ends with seven women performing the serpentine all at once. It’s an eccentric short, but its eccentricities seem to be one of the touches that sets Chomon apart from Melies. This one is entertaining enough, though it spends a little too much time on the opening minuets.