1. Une partie de cartes (1896), Remake of Partie d'écarté (1896)
The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, were among the first filmmakers in history. They began making moving pictures in 1892, even patenting an early film camera called a cinematograph. They held their first private screening in 1895 to an audience of 200 people, followed by their first public screening later that year, where they presented ten short films.
One of Louis’s films was Partie d'écarté (1896), the title of which translates to Card Game, also known as The Messers. Lumière at Cards. This one-minute film shows two men sitting at a table on a patio, playing cards, while a third man watches them and a waiter brings wine. The third man pours the wine, and they all raise their glasses in a toast.
Later that year, director Georges Méliès remade the film under the title Une partie de cartes (1896), which translates to A Game of Cards, Card Party, or Playing Cards. This was the first film of Méliès’s prolific career, and he even stars in it alongside his brother Gaston and his daughter Georgette.
The remake was filmed in Méliès’s own backyard. Gaston and another man play cards while Méliès himself smokes and reads a newspaper. He calls over Georgette and has her retrieve a woman with a bottle of wine. Méliès pours the wine and reads a story from the newspaper out loud, making the others laugh.
2. L'Arroseur (1896), Remake of L'Arroseur Arrosé (1895)
L'Arroseur Arrosé (1895), which translates to The Waterer Waterer or The Sprinkler Sprinkled, was directed and produced by Louis Lumière. It's believed to be the first comedy film and the first use of film to portray a fictional story, as opposed to early filmmakers capturing footage of mundane events, such as backyard card games and city traffic. It was also the first film to have a promotional poster.
Set in Lyon, France, L'Arroseur Arrosé portrays a gardener being pranked by a mischievous boy. While the gardener is watering plants, the boy steps on the hose and cuts off the water flow. Confused, the gardener looks inside the hose, and the boy releases the water, causing the gardener to get sprayed in the face. This may be the first use of slapstick comedy on film.
Though L'Arroseur Arrosé has survived the test of time and is available to watch on YouTube, the first remake, L'Arroseur (1896) by Georges Méliès, has not. There is no remaining footage or record of the cast or crew, only its title, which translates to Watering the Flowers, listed in Méliès's catalogs.
3. Tea: The Twins' Tea Party (1898), Remake of The Twins' Tea Party (1896)
The Twins' Tea Party (1896), a British film featuring two little girls fighting over a piece of cake during a tea party, was produced and directed by Robert W. Paul. One of the twins hits the other, which makes her cry. The first girl apologetically hugs and kisses her, ending the film with a reconciliation.
This was one of the most popular of Paul's films exhibited at the Alhambra Theatre in London. One newspaper commented, "the droll gestures of two children at a nursery tea-party evoke much merriment."
When it debuted in the United States, the Edison Catalogue described it as "One of the prettiest pictures of child life we have yet offered," and claimed it contained "the most perfect and child-like facial expressions we have yet had the pleasure of seeing."
The film's popularity led to a remake entitled Tea: The Twins' Tea Party (1898). It was promoted as a new and improved version of the original, though it's unfortunately been lost.
4. The Biter Bit (1899), Remake of L'Arroseur Arrosé (1895)
The English film The Biter Bit (1899) is the second remake of L'Arroseur Arrosé (1895), produced by Bamford & Company. Aside from a few changes, this film is mostly identical to its predecessor.
In the original, a boy pranks a gardener by stepping on his hose, then spraying him with water when he looks inside the hose. The gardener chases the boy, drags him back by his ear, then spanks him. In Biter Bit, the same scenario occurs, except the gardener grabs the boy and sprays the hose in his face as revenge. The boy breaks free and runs, pursued by the gardener, and the film ends there.
In a review on BFI Screenonline, Michael Brooke wrote, "There are a few minor differences between the Bamforth and Lumière films, most notably a rather greater sense of space and depth in the Bamforth version. There are three distinct planes to the action: the tree in the foreground, the gardener in the middle, and an amused onlooker in the background."
5. The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899), Remake of The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899)
Directed by British filmmaker George Albert Smith, The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899) is a romantic comedy about a couple, played by Smith and his wife Laura Bayley, kissing while riding in a train.
The film features a then-popular filming technique called the phantom ride, where a camera is positioned onto the front of a moving vehicle, allowing viewers to see the railroad tracks from the forefront of the train. The film also cuts from the exterior shot of the train to the interior shots of the train car, showing one of the earliest uses of narrative editing.
The train footage was added from another film entitled View from an Engine Front—Train Leaving Tunnel (1899), directed by Cecil Hepworth.
The Kiss in the Tunnel was remade by Bamford & Company later that year, under the same title. The remake dispensed with the phantom ride technique and instead showed the train entering and exiting the tunnel.
The actors in the remake are considerably younger than Smith and Bayley, with less affluent clothing. The man is smoking a cigarette, as opposed to Smith smoking a cigar in the original. While the kissing between Smith and Bayley was playful, the couple in the remake kiss passionately, with their arms around each other.
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6. The Chimney Sweep and the Miller (1900), Remake of The Miller and Chimney Sweep (1897)
One of George Albert Smith's first films, The Miller and the Sweep (1897) portrayed a popular comedy routine often seen on stage and in comic strips during that time.
A miller carrying a bag of flour bumps into a chimney sweep carrying a bag of soot. They get into a fight, hitting each other with their bags and spilling flour and soot everywhere. Then a crowd suddenly appears to chase them both away.
As this film was shot black and white, Smith took advantage of the color contrast by having the miller dress in white and the sweep dress in black. The miller also carries a white bag while the sweep carries a black one.
For the remake, The Chimney Sweep and the Miller (1900), director Arthur Marvin also utilized this contrast with the characters' clothing. While the original took place in front of a windmill, the remake has a forest backdrop that is completely obscured by the soot and flour flying around. This time, no crowd appears to chase these men.
7. La fée aux choux, ou la naissance des enfants (1900), Remake of La fée aux choux (1896)
As the first female director of all time, Alice Guy began her career with La fée aux choux (1898), the title of which translates to The Cabbage Fairy.
During the 19th century, parents often told children that babies were found in cabbages. This film plays with that idea, portraying a young couple visiting a cabbage farm to seek a baby for themselves. They meet the cabbage fairy, who pulls a baby out of a cabbage for them. Most of the babies portrayed were made out of cardboard, with the exception of the live baby the couple takes home.
Guy went on to have a prolific career, with over 1,000 films to her name. Unfortunately, many of them were lost, including the original La fée aux choux. So Guy remade the film twice, once in 1900 and again in 1902. Both remakes have survived.
The title of the first remake translates to The Cabbage Fairy, or The Birth of Children. It features a woman, presumably the cabbage fairy, smiling at the camera as she pulls babies out of a cabbage garden and lays them in a row. Guy used two live babies and several dolls for this sequence.
8. Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1902), Remake of The Countryman's First Sight of the Animated Pictures (1901)
Back when films were first being screened for the public, audiences were intrigued by The Arrival of a Train (1896), a film by the Lumiere brothers. A legend circulated that audiences recoiled in fear that the train would leap out of the screen and hit them, as they had never seen a film before. This story has never been verified.
British director Robert W. Paul satirized this legend with The Countryman's First Sight of the Animated Pictures (1901). In this film, a stereotypical country yokel reacts to The Arrival of a Train in a comically exaggerated way. He holds his arms out defensively, then runs away in terror. This is the earliest known example of a film within a film.
The following year, the Edison Film Company remade the film as Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1902). Again, a man unaccustomed to watching films responds in an over-the-top way to what he sees on screen. He sees three films: one of a woman dancing, one of a train, and one of a couple embracing. He dances with the woman, flees in terror from the train, and jealously attempts to stop the couple's display of affection.
As Uncle Josh was a recurring character in cinema, this film was preceded by Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel (1900) and Uncle Josh's Nightmare (1900).
9. Grandpa's Reading Glass (1902), Remake of Grandma's Reading Glass (1900)
George Albert Smith was likely the first filmmaker to use the close-up technique in Grandma's Reading Glass (1900), a film in which a curious boy borrows a magnifying glass. He uses it to look at a newspaper, a pocket watch, his grandmother's eye, and her pet bird and cat.
When Smith filmed the close-up shots, he placed a round black mask in front of the camera lens to emphasize that the boy is looking through a round magnifying glass. He followed up this film with As Seen Through a Telescope (1900), which utilized the same method.
In the remake, Grandpa's Reading Glass (1902), the cast of characters includes a grandfather, a mother, two young girls, and their infant sibling. As the girls look through the glass, a wider range of objects and people are magnified, including a page from a newspaper comic, a girl with a kitten, and a monkey eating a banana. Once again, the close-up shots are emphasized with a round black mask.
10. Sage-femme de première classe (1902), remake of La fée aux choux (1896)
Alice Guy's second remake of her film La fée aux choux (1896) is titled Sage-femme de première classe (1902), which translates to Midwife to the Upper Classes. This one takes the concept of babies growing in cabbages a step further.
Instead of a fairy pulling babies out of cabbages, this film is about a couple going to a store to buy a baby. A saleswoman presents several infants, but none strike a chord with the couple. So she takes them to the cabbage garden, where she harvests fresh babies, and the couple chooses one.
Unfortunately, this film is problematic to modern viewers, as it contains a racist scene in which the couple is presented with a black baby, and they recoil in disgust.
Raymond on September 03, 2020:
Typo on the second one - Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1984) ..should be 1894
Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on March 31, 2019:
You're welcome, Sarah. I'm glad I could help in some small way.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 30, 2019:
Hi, there, I agreed. All comments very useful and welcomed.
James A Watkins from Chicago on March 30, 2019:
Very interesting. You have certainly carved out a niche. Well done.
Sarah Nour (author) on March 29, 2019:
Ooh, thank you for letting me know, Pat! I'll be adding that one to the list. Researching film history is tricky business - I'm always finding films I originally missed.
Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on March 29, 2019:
Another remake that occurred to me is Brown Of Harvard, which was filmed three times. The first one came in 1911 as a short, with feature remakes coming in 1918 and 1926. All three versions supposedly survive - the last one does for sure.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 29, 2019:
Hi, Sarah, this is very informative. Thanks for sharing.