- (1877-1929)Cinematographer, director, producer, and screenwriter. Alfred Machin began his career as a photographer and in that capacity worked for the magazine L 'Illustration. In 1905, however, he exchanged still photography for the cinema and was hired as a cameraman at Pathé. Machin worked for several years as a cameraman, but by 1908, he had moved into cinematography, directing, and screenwriting. As a cinematographer he made more than thirty films, all of which he also directed. In addition, Machin directed numerous films that utilized a third-party cinematographer. In total, Machin made 120 films, some documentary and some narrative, but nearly all of them having some connection to animals. He also wrote or collaborated on the screenplays of more than forty of the films he directed. Although he was one of the most popular film-makers of his time, Machin has, for the most part, been ignored by film historians.Machin worked as a cinematographer at Pathé from 1908 until 1922. His first film assignments at Pathé were animal films called films à chasse or hunting films. Among these were La Chasse à l'hippopotame sur le Nil bleu (1908), La Chasse à la panthère (1909), La Chasse à la girafe en Ouganda (1910), En Egypte, élevage des autruches (1910), and La Chasse aux éléphants sur les bords du Nyanza (1911). While in Africa Machin did other types of documentary as well, including Les Chillouks, tribu de l'Afrique centrale (1910),Moeurs et coutumes des Chillouks (1910), Comment une lettre nous parvient des grands lacs de l'Afrique centrale (1911), and Le Cinéma en Afrique (1911).In 1909, he made a detour from his African trip and was sent to Holland in order to promote film production there. While in Holland, Machin made a number of documentaries including Enfants de Holland (1909) and Coiffures et types de Holland (1909), and he also made his first narrative film, Le Moulin maudit (1909). Following this narrative film, Machin managed a few others amid his documentary projects. These include Soyez donc charitables (1911), Parfum troublant (1911), Little Moritz, soldat d'Afrique (1911), Babylas vient d'heriter une panthère (1911), L'Aeroplane de Fouinard (1911), Madame Babylas aime les animaux (1911), Little Moritz chasse les grands fauves (1911), and La Peinture et les chochons (1912). As is apparent from the titles of several of these films, Machin introduced animals into the narratives of fiction films, and he was, in that respect, a pioneer of animal films.Late in 1911, Machin returned to Holland to establish a Pathé subsidiary. He then went to Belgium and founded a Pathé studio in that country. Both Belgium and Holland consider Machin as the founder of their respective film industries. During the same period, Machin also directed. While he continued to make documentaries and comic films, he also developed a more serious filmmaking style during this period. Some of the films between 1912 and the start of World War I in 1914 are considered among his best, thematically and artistically. Machin experimented with the superimposition of images and created a series of mature films from the standpoint of both style and depth. Among the films from this period are L'Âme des moulins (1912), La Fleur sanglante (1912), L'Or qui brûle (1912), Le Baiser de l'empereur (1913), L'Agent Rigolo et son chien policier (1913), L'Hallali (1913), Voyage et grandes chasses en Afrique (1913), Au ravissement des dames (1913), La Fille de Delft (1914), and Maudite soit la guerre (1914). Among these, L'Or qui brûle (1912) and Maudite soit la guerre (1914) are considered to be his best films.During the war, Machin served as a reporter and photographer for Pathé. He was one of the founders of the Service cinématographique de l'armée, and he spent the war serving as a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, capturing images of the war. He made more than twenty documentary films on the subject of the war, including Notre cavalrie d'Afrique au front (1915), Le Drapeau des chasseurs d'Artois (1915), Avec nos soldats dans les forêts d'Argonne (1915), Monuments historiques d'Arras, victimes de la barberie allemande (1916), Le Service de santé aux armées (1916), and Dressage de chiens sentinelles (1916).After the war, Machin returned to Pathé, where he again began making narrative films, predominantly comedies. His first postwar film was Suprême sacrifice (1919), which he codirected with Armand du Plessy. This was followed by Une nuit agitée (1920), On attend Polochon (1920), and Serpentin fait de la peinture (1922).In 1922, Machin left Pathé and opened his own studio, Les Studios Nice Machin, at the site of the former Pathé studio in Nice. There he continued to make films and to work with animals. He remained at that studio and worked independently until the end of his career, which coincided with the end of the silent era. Among these last films are Pervenche (1922), Bête . . . commes les hommes (1922), Moi, j'accuse (1923), L'Enigme du Mont Agel (1924), Les Heritiers de l'oncle James (1924), Le Coeur des gueux (1925), Le Manoir de la peur (1927), and Black and White (1929), his last known film.
Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins. 2007.
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Machin, Alfred — (1877 1929) Cinematographer, director, producer, and screenwriter. Alfred Machin began his career as a photographer and in that capacity worked for the magazine L Illustration. In 1905, however, he exchanged still photography for the cinema… … Guide to cinema
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