L'Arroseur Arrosé (also known as Tables Turned on the Gardener, The Waterer Watered and The Sprinkler Sprinkled) is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent comedy film directed and produced by Louis Lumière.
The 45-second short film is the earliest known instance of film comedy, as well as the first use of film to portray a fictional story.
Shot in Lyon in the spring of 1895, the film portrays a simple practical joke in which a gardener is tormented by a boy who steps on the hose that the gardener is using to water his plants, cutting off the water flow. When the gardener tilts the nozzle up to inspect it, the boy releases the hose, causing the water to spray him. The gardener is stunned and his hat is knocked off, but he soon catches on. A chase ensues, both on and off-screen (the camera never moves from its original position) until the gardener catches the boy and administers a spanking. The boy leaves the scene and the gardener continues his work.
Pioneering narrative and comedy film
In the earliest years of the history of film, the cinema was used by pioneers such as Thomas Edison and the Lumières to entertain by the sheer novelty of the invention, and most films were short recordings of mundane events, such as a sneeze, or the arrival of a train. Ever seeking to innovate, the Lumières took some of the first steps toward narrative film with L'Arroseur arrosé.
The poster for L'Arroseur arrosé has the distinction of being the first poster ever designed to promote an individual film. It depicts an audience (in the foreground) laughing as the film (in the background) is projected against a screen. It depicts the moment the gardener is splashed in the face, and is thus also the first film poster to depict an actual scene from a film.
The great popularity of L'Arroseur arrosé led to various remakes of the film. Practically all major film makers of the 1890s shot their own version of the water hose prank on a gardener (more than 10 versions between 1895 and 1898 are known). The film also gave rise to a whole genre of mischief gag films, such as The Bad Boy and the Poor Old Grandpa (1897) by the Biograph Company, Grandma and the bad boys (1900) Maude's Naughty Little Brother (1900), A Joke on Grandma (1901) or The Terrible Kids (1906) by Edison. It is also thought that L'Arroseur arrosé was the ignition to slapstick film with stars such as Charlie Chaplin.
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