Boat Leaving the Port

Rowers navigate a rowboat beyond a pier, from which several ladies watch. French. Original title: Barque sortant du port

Courtesy of the water and its waves, most of the frame is in constant motion. Beyond that, the most interesting aspect is the ending, which is both suspenseful and ambiguous: as the rowers move away from the camera, the waves begin to offer up resistance and turn their boat; when they’ve been put parallel to the screen, an extra large wave catches them, picks them up, and—the short ends! Did they end up in the drink, did they manage to stay dry? It’s a perfect ending. But, the danger of being unaware: no one purposefully stopped the camera at that point; the reel simply ran out. Perfection was a product of chance.

Auguste & Louis Lumière, 1895


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