La fée aux choux (1896) Poster

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Miss Guy enters the scene
Horst_In_Translation12 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
And she proves right away that she's as good as her male colleagues, probably superior to most of them. The first female filmmaker starts her directing career with a pretty good effort here. The really interesting thing about "La fée aux choux"/"The Cabbage Fairy" is that it's really themed in a way that you can see the female touch in it: the beautiful female lead character, the scenes of mother nature giving birth and her gentle movements. And all this packed into clearly less than a minute. I watched this film with no soundtrack and I'm fairly certain it would be even more fun with a soothing slow tune. It's a good piece of filmmaking from one of the best female and most prolific directors in the history of film. On a sidenote, beyond enjoying the action, it also made me VERY hungry for cabbage heads. Man the ones in this one looked delicious. Recommended.
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MartinHafer6 November 2015
This strange but cute little film was apparently the first one ever directed by a woman. Alice Guy (later Alice Guy Blaché) made what is in some ways very indicative of the 1890s--a film only about a minute long and with an underdeveloped plot. However, the set is actually very nice for the time as is the woman's costume. Compared to the Lumiere Brothers' films of the day, this one is much more interesting and isn't about mundane everyday activities (such as folks leaving work or babies eating). It consists of a woman(Guy herself) who you assume is some sort of fairy. She's in the cabbage patch pulling out babies from the plants. It's certainly NOT the best sexual health and reproduction lesson I've seen and is kind of goofy...but cute at the same time.

One reviewer went on and on about how abusive the film was towards these poor naked babies...I just thought it was kind of cute and nothing more. But, I must admit that the fairy was awfully rough with the babies! This is an interesting review to read.

By the way, I am not giving this one a numerical score and I often don't with the earliest films because they are so short and simple that they defy scoring.
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Mlle. Guy's Fifth Movie as Director
boblipton26 July 2018
Let's talk about Alice Guy. She started out as a secretary at Gaumont and was soon put in charge of film production, yet for some reason, although her IMDb page credits her first movie as director as LES DEMOLISSEURS, (now apparently lost), the page for this movie appears later in production, has a release date of 1900 and the IMDb claims it is the first movie directed by a woman. It's also written by her. It also credits her as one of three actresses appearing in the movie, although there is only one.

It's a minute and a half of a woman in fancy dress dancing around a cabbage field, occasionally plucking a baby out. Some modern feminist writers claim that early women in the film business were a lot like modern feminists. I think it better to actually look at the works of early movies, as many of them as possible, and then make up your mind. This looks silly and charming and not the least feminist to me. Clearly someone -- or several people -- have been talking about Mlle. Guy and this movie without bothering to look at anything pertinent.
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"One of the First Narrative Fiction Films"...
Tornado_Sam14 January 2018
...Wikipedia states. I'll go along with that. In 1896, films were relatively new--and, the Lumiere Bros were still turning out actuality shorts. Apparently, this little vignette is based on the concept that baby boys come from cabbages (and baby girls from roses). There is no real story and all you see is a fairy of sorts pulling babies out of cabbages. At a minute long you can't expect much more.

I will admit I am not too familiar with director Alice Guy. This is the only film I've seen by her (except for "Making an American Citizen" from 1912). Reportedly, this is Guy's first film. About that reviewer who said it's all about child cruelty--forget that! Yes, she wasn't exactly gentle to these babies, but I doubt they were hurt all that bad, and it feels harmless enough to me at least. At least that aforementioned reviewer did inform me that the 1896 original is lost and the 1900 remake survives. Watch it anyway--it's available on YouTube. And while you won't be impressed, you will have to give it to Guy--these sets and costumes are ahead of their time.
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'Be natural'.
classicsoncall8 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If I were to review this film in a stream of consciousness mode and mention random thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched it, I guess it would take me slightly more time than the half minute or so I've already spent here, which would actually be longer than the film itself! It's listed in the IMDb details for one minute, but it wasn't too tough to count off thirty seconds as I watched it a couple times.

I happened to catch this during it's Turner Classics premiere and it was heralded by the pair of host critics as the first narrative film to tell a story. Prior to this, the very earliest film makers simply focused their camera on a person or object and did little more than take a picture that lasted on screen a while. If you think about it, film making had to start somewhere from scratch, so these early attempts showed initiative in their own way. This is certainly the earliest film I've seen and reviewed so far, beating out my previous movie, 1915's "Birth of a Nation" by a full two decades!

The English translation of the title amounts to 'The Cabbage Fairy', featuring a Mother Nature type of character seemingly plucking newborn babies out of a cabbage patch. Her actions are a bit cringe-worthy; as she sets down the first baby in a half sitting position, the toddler falls back on it's head. She lifts the second one with one arm, her hand placed under the baby's armpit in what must have been an uncomfortable moment for the little one. There's a third 'baby' brought into the picture, but this last one appears to be a doll as it lays motionless for it's brief appearance. Throughout the picture's short duration, it appears that the principal character is shortsightedly self conscious regarding her own presence, with the babies' welfare a secondary concern.

It's virtually impossible to evaluate this film's merits based on the existing IMDb rating system. One could go a full '10' for originality and creativity at a time when motion pictures didn't even exist, or a lowly '1' for it's apparent disregard for the cabbage babies. Personally, I'll keep it in the middle.

By the way, my summary line refers to the advice director Alice Guy gave to the players in her short films - 'Be natural'.
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The First Female Director
Screen_O_Genic31 July 2020
Considered the first film made by a female director and the first feature of fiction in cinema, "The Cabbage Fairy" (La fée aux choux) is a charming piece of film history. Based on a European fairy tale, the film is a minute-sized glimpse at the directress Alice Guy-Blaché playing a fairy who plucks babies out of cabbages while employing theatrical gestures with a winning smile in every move. Pioneering and still quite entertaining, the film is a fascinating view on the origins of film and the distant past.
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Where do Movies come From?
Cineanalyst31 March 2020
You know where babies come from, but do you know the real origins of movies? Contrary to Internet folklore, movies weren't actually born and reproduced of YouTube--not directly or originally, at least. Apparently, that's how many people, including the reviewers on this site, came by this early film, though. Consequently, some lose sense of the picture's meaning and origins. The birds and the bees of the matter, however, is that "The Cabbage-Patch Fairy" was, first, conceived by Alice Guy-Blaché. She related the story of her creation in interviews and her memoir decades after the fact, although her telling of it hasn't quite aligned with the surviving historical record. The earliest cabbage-patch film we have today was rediscovered together on a 35mm reel with other Gaumont productions at the Swedish Film Archive in the late 1990s. Later, it made its way onto DVD, such as in part of the Kino Gaumont set and, from here, ripped and uploaded as video to the web. Along the way, however, these posters ignored the usual dating of the film as c.1900 in favor of trying to substantiate Guy-Blaché's later claims--or, more likely, they chose 1896 as a more sensational date. Thus, it may be proclaimed the first film made by a woman, or, even more preposterously, as the first story film, or some such primacy nonsense. Yet, the truth is it likely isn't Guy's first film (even if it is hers), although it may be a remake of a hypothetical first cabbage-patch film she made in 1896, and neither of those films would be the first story film, anyways--even if this one weren't in the cinema-of-attractions mode as opposed to more of a proto-narrative.

On the other hand, leading historian of Guy, Alison McMahan (in her book, "Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema") makes the best case for this possibly being the 1896 film, as, perhaps, reproduced from an original 58mm print (the size for the camera by Georges Demenÿ that Gaumont first employed). Theoretically, then, as McMahan argues, the cabbage patch set-up based in folklore (like the one involving storks) may be viewed as a demonstration film, with the cabbages standing in for Gaumont's advertising of their cameras and with the babies as the films they make. But even McMahan hedges her bets by suggesting it may be a remake, too. The documentary "Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché" goes so far as to claim it a remake of the now-lost hypothetical 1896 production--although no evidence is offered for this assertion. Others, such as Jane M. Gaines (author of "Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industry") and Joan Simon ("Alice Guy Blaché: Cinema Pioneer"), meanwhile, have led the way in otherwise forming a consensus around a date c.1900, which film preservationists and such home-video makers as Kino followed for DVD dating. After all, the earliest listing of a cabbage-patch film in surviving Gaumont catalogues, where the film was singled out as "a great success," suggests a 1900 dating. Moreover, the cabbage-patch film that Guy-Blaché described in her later years, besides the 1896 date, more closely resembles a 1902 film of hers, "Midwife to the Upper Class" (1902), which, indeed, is a two-shot narrative film. A photograph of Guy with a couple actors that in the past has erroneously been attributed to and been held up as evidence for an 1896 film, indeed, is from this 1902 production.

Indeed, remakes were common in the cabbage patch of early cinema and not only to rework a familiar narrative, but also as replacement for popular films, such as this one, whose negatives were worn out by the film duplication processes of the era. The prior fiction film, "The Gardener" (1895), for instance, was reborn a few times by the Lumière brothers and other studios. As to establishing Guy's maternity of this earliest surviving cabbage-patch film, it seems likely given that she made two later films involving cabbage-patch babies, the aforementioned 1902 production and a scene from "Madame's Cravings" (1906). Even if not the first film made by her, let alone the first narrative one, "The Cabbage-Patch Fairy" is an interesting piece of early cinema, which I'll discuss in my review under the entry for La fée aux choux, ou la naissance des enfants (1900), the 1900 version of this same, one and only, film we've seen, whether dated 1896 or to 1900.
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dolive-578-56498713 February 2020
Ms. Guy, an enchanting actor, makes the connection between humanity and nature. Mirthful and succinct. -David Olive, Toronto
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Unbelievable that the first woman film director ever is the one guilty of careless handling of babies.
A_Kind_Of_CineMagic20 June 2015
This film is actually lost. No footage survives. Online footage is a remake from the year 1900 by the same woman director. I was astounded when viewing the 1900 film. The 1896 original was, I was informed, the first film ever directed by a woman. One might expect a woman's touch in her own remake? Instead the 1900 version depicts what amounts to risking harm to babies, perhaps not deliberate but totally inexcusable, needless and careless!

The film is a 'fantasy' with a mother nature figure grinning inanely and posing whilst plucking babies out of the cabbage patch. It is quite clear the 1st two babies are real and when roughly picking the first one up and plonking it down the stupid and irresponsible woman - also the director, apparently - lets go of the baby's head allowing it to fall backwards onto the floor. The baby then reacts flailing its arms and appearing to cry. I can only hope the floor was thickly carpeted but it may have been hard and even this small drop could injure such a young baby. Not content with this the woman then picks the next baby up by one arm/shoulder! Anyone knows this could cause a baby pain and possible injury. She plonks that baby onto the floor still grinning inanely and posing. The third cabbage she reaches into produces something which apparently is a doll. That is haphazardly put on the floor and just looks creepy because it is immobile and so appears rather like a dead baby.

I find this film unacceptably careless and the woman would be questioned for her poor treatment of the babies nowadays. Instead she is revered as the world's first woman director! The fact this was 1900 does NOT excuse this behaviour at all. There are other early films depicting animal cruelty (such as 'Cock Fight No. 2' and the appalling 'Electrocuting an Elephant') but this so far is the only film I have seen depicting possibly dangerous treatment of babies. Ironic that the woman director and mother nature figures are the ones guilty of this. By 1900 there were impressive and innovative works of early film being produced by the likes of Georges Melies, Walter R. Booth and James Williamson which are hugely technically and artistically advanced compared to this very crude and inept film.

To be fair the 1896 film cannot be commented on or assessed at all as it is lost. It apparently had one real baby and dolls. If we assume the one baby was treated more carefully in that then it would be far better than the 1900 remake but if the remake is so crude that even for 1896 it would be unimpressive then the 1896 film would be equally unimpressive I am sure.
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The Original Cabbage Patch Kids
Rainey-Dawn12 July 2019
Well, this one is quite a bore - nothing more to see than a lady dressed as fairy picking up babies out of large fake cabbages.

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