Come Along, Do! (1898): Lost and Forgotten


Right off the bat, I have to apologize. Posting has been sparse as of late, as I quietly leave the ‘post-a-week’ format behind. I would love to be writing a weekly blog, but certain developments have prevented me from keeping the original schedule (laziness being the prime culprit). But have no fear, this blog project will continue, and I hope to get back on the intended schedule soon.

Part of the reason for the hiatus is the film we’re looking at in this blog post. Come Along, Do! (1898) is just -kind of boring. The movie is 1 minute and 38 seconds (too) long, and there just isn’t a lot to it. The film is essentially one shot of a couple talking (flirting?) outside of an art gallery, followed by a few shots of the gentleman admiring a nude statue while is wife looks away in shame. Melissa and I glanced at this thing a few weeks ago, and were equally confused. We immediately forgot about it, and moved on with our day.

It’s dull, even by 19th-century-film standards. But I think that I should offer a few words in defence of Robert W. Paul’s short. Come Along, Do! is considered a ‘lost film’, a movie that, for whatever reason, is no longer available for viewing. Reasons could include technological constraints, insufficient production numbers, or improper handling of the original edition. Lost films were common amongst the growing pains of film’s early years (1896 lists 20 lost films alone on the “Lost Films” Wikipedia page). Besides this, there are a large number of movies that are considered “partially lost”, such as Come Along, Do!. With this case, the first half of the movie is available for viewing in all its grainy glory, but the second half has been reduced to a series of still images. I couldn’t quite determine why this movie was partially lost, I guess these things tended to happen. Either way, not a terrible loss, right?

Well, actually, it is rather unfortunate. It may not look like much, but Come Along, Do! was rather significant for the development of cinema. Robert W. Paul’s movie is today considered one of the premier examples of a multi-scene structure in a narrative film (it may even be the first). As we’ve seen from previous examples, the early days of film consisted of a strict one scene rule (the Coronatation of Csar Nicholas was an exception, but I’m assuming the multi-shot depiction was a series of individual movies). Of course, the multi-scene structure seems kind of inevitable in hind-sight, but I think we need to give Paul a little more credit. After all, early filmmakers often based their work on the continuous nature of theatre performances, so suddenly ‘cutting’ to an entirely new setting is rather revolutionary. It’s quite an achievement, too bad the movie was a bit of a dud.



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