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A Day at the Beach – c.1899 | AI Enhanced Film

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Time travel back 122 years to the beaches of Étretat and Le Tréport in Normandy France. Possibly filmed by Georges Méliès, with its innovative wide panning shots, while on holiday with his family in 1899. Méliès was already moving away from making actuality films. His classic Trip to the Moon was released in 1902. Before the Riviera became popular, Parisians headed to the sea fronts of Normandy. The film begins with passengers arriving at Mers-Le Tréport train station. Observe the mobile beach huts for the more adventurous women to change into swimming costumes. The huts were then rolled down to the waters edge for a secluded dip in the water. Another interesting feature are the diving boards attached to moored boats. This 19th century sport of diving off a gangway tethered to a boat is captured in an 1866 painting “Sea Bathing at Étretat” by Eugène Lepoittevin. We don’t have an exact date for this footage but judging by the various fashions and accessories this is some time between 1896 and 1906. During the panning camera shot in Le Treport, you can just pick out the chalk cliffs of the neighboring commune of Mers-les-Bains a few kilometres away. Some of this footage also notably features in a 1947 documentary “Paris 1900” directed by Nicole Vedrès. She was given a simple brief to explore Belle Epoch Paris using texts and archive actuality footage. The result was a humorous essay on early 20th century France. Archival footage supplied by Internet Archive (at archive.org)

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