The clip shows a jockey, Domm, riding a horse, Sally Gardner. The clip is not filmed but instead consists of 24 individual photographs shot in rapid succession, making a moving picture when using a zoopraxiscope.
In a medium close-up shot of the first kiss ever recorded on screen, two fervent lovers cuddle and talk passionately at hair's breadth, just before the love-smitten gentleman decides to give his chosen one an innocent peck.
Possibly the first ever porn...if all of it survived
Albert Kirchner's "Coucher de la mariée" is certainly not the first movie ever to deal with risque material. Since 1894, Edison from America was already at work filming Carmencita (who scandalously showed her ankles) Annabelle Moore (who, even more scandalously showed her legs) and in 1895, Princess Ali (who shockingly performed a belly-dance for her performance). Of course, all of these movies look very tame now and could hardly be considered pornographic today, but that's what people thought of it then.
However, it gets worse. Some movies, like the one I'm reviewing here, actually approached pornography in a different way. "Coucher de la mariée", is one of them, but now, unfortunately for some, survives only in a roughly two-minute fragmentary form. I say 'unfortunately for some', because while many people today would be offended by such a strip-tease and would be glad no more is available, for film buffs like me seeing a piece of history now mostly lost is a real shame, even though the concept of filming nudity remains titillatingly effective--in the negative sense. Apparently, this film originally ran about seven minutes total, and according to many, featured the first nude scene in history (preceding Georges Méliès's "Après le bal" by one year). In the form available now, it looks fairly tame though above the typical 'scandalous' material of the period. Two newlyweds make out on their wedding night (which would have been scandalous enough at the time considering "The May-Irwin Kiss") before the wife gets ready to undress for bed, so she sends her husband to one side of a folding screen before removing her garments in front of the camera. Of course he can't resist and even peeks at her a little bit over the screen. (Hoo boy, there's a Peeping Tom in the house).
Since a seven-minute film was ambitious for 1896, I too, like the other reviewer, wonder if this could really be the complete thing and nothing's missing. They probably have substantial evidence to support this claim. Either way, there's no dismissing the fact that this could really be the first film to feature a nude scene, so let's hope Louise Willy can wait another few years or so to finish undressing.
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