|PROGRAM 1 AN OCEANIC FEELING|
Direction: Louis Lumière
Two women and two children watch as three men in a rowboat leave the shore to bob and sway in the breaking waves. Just before the shot comes to an end, the movement of the sea causes the boat to lurch to the left. What happens to the rowers? We will never know. For Dai Vaughan, Barque sortant du port stands as a special case of the cinema’s unique power for capturing contingent moments. He elevates the film over perhaps better known examples, such as the wind that blows through the trees of "Repas de bébé" (1895) or the dust of "Démolition d’un mur" (1896), because its embrace of the unplannable is not mere background but something at the very centre of the action, embroiling and overtaking the human figures. Faced with the sea’s swell, the rowers respond “to the challenge of the spontaneous moment” and, in so doing, “become integrated into its spontaneity… Man, no longer the mountebank self-presenter, has become equal with the leaves and the brick dust—and as miraculous.” Here, the ocean and the cinema—united by inhuman animus and a penchant for flux—conspire to dislodge man from his pedestal. No longer separate from nature, and certainly not its master, man is dwarfed by the unruly, intractable contingency of the water.