Le Farfale or Butterflys is a wonderful Italian short silent film made in 1907.
(For more information, see Arte’s website, in French or German)
I do not know if it was ever shown in France.
It can be divided in three parts:
- Japanese juggler women and a Japanese magician display their talent; they are all Caucasians dressed in Japanese garb. The set is also Japanese with a tori, pines, lantern and the Fuji mountain in the background
- A fantasy scene that could have been shot by Melies
- A serpentine dance (or Louise Fuller dance): butterflies come to haunt the magician who had cut the wings of one of them before killing it.
If the scenes might seem unconnected and the Japanese setting and costumes seem artificial, they are actually tied by the theme of the butterfly.
Japanese jugglers were famous for juggling with paper made butterflies and a fan.
Les hommes-phénomènes : force, agilité, adresse : hercules, coureurs, sauteurs, nageurs, plongeurs, gymnastes, équilibristes, disloqués, jongleurs, avaleurs de sabres, tireurs / par Guyot-Daubès