NEWS ABOUT THE PAST
»Kinematograph« as a Theater Comedy Topic at the End of Nineteenth Century
This research paper in film
history is about the earliest reactions of popular theater
to the brand new phenomenon of film. The paper is based
on published contemporary reviews and the preserved translation
of the performed play, a German light comedy adapted to
the Croat milieu. The play was performed in Zagreb in 1898,
only two years after the first films were shown.
In the last days of February 1898, the new
»light comedy« — Hans Huckelbin or Kinematograph — by German
playwrights Oskar Blumenthal and Gustav Kadelburg opened
at Zagreb’s National Theater. It was the first known play
using the new medium of film as a plot element to be performed
on the stage in Zagreb. This was two years after the first
film-PROGRAM was shown in Zagreb in 1896. The play was
»localized«, meaning the names and places and references
in the dialogue, were »Croatized«. The name of the play
was Kinematograf ili Martin Smola. In the plot, the naive
protagonist is set up to meet a nice girl unaware that
everything is being filmed by a »candid« camera.
is then shown within the normal program of »Kinematograph«,
in front of the filmed mans’ wife, friends and family.
The popular film program mentioned in the play was mostly
the actual film program shown in Zagreb two years earlier.
The cinema program referred to in the play was, of course,
not screened on the stage, but just referred to within
the dialogue. The play used the high popularity of cinema
a t the time, but also »fantasized« about the possibility
of the »candid« camera and its possible misuses. The play
contains general opinions about film as well.
Zagreb witnessed its encore thirty years later in 1928.
It was also performed on stage in neighboring Ljubljana,