Watch After the Ball, the 1897 “Adult” Film by Pioneering Director Georges Méliès (Almost NSFW)

after the ball

Cinema history now looks back to Georges Méliès, creator of 1902’s A Trip to the Moon and other early motion pictures previously featured here, as the medium’s first master of the fantastical. Visual effects, imagined worlds, and the seemingly impossible made seemingly real remain reliable draws for modern-day filmgoers, but so does something far simpler to produce: skin. But Méliès knew that, and he even demonstrated the extent of his knowledge in 1897’s After the Ball, viewable in all of its 19th-century titillation, and for its entire 1:06 length, here. While not the very first “adult” film — that historical honor goes to Eugène Pirou’s Bedtime for the Bride in France, and Esmé Collings’ A Victorian Lady in Her Boudoir in Britain — it must count as the earliest one by such a distinguished filmmaker.

Michael Brooke’s Georges Méliès blog describes the action, shall we say, as follows: “A woman enters her boudoir, and her maid helps her to undress, peeling off her outer garments until she is clad in a shift and stockings. She sits down, and the maid helps remove the latter. Almost naked aside from skimpy underwear, the woman gets into a tub and the maid pours the contents of a large jug over her, drying her off with a towel afterwards. They leave the room together.” While modern-day adult filmmakers can and do continue to dine out on such premises, After the Ball‘s rendition of the circumstances now looks tame enough to play freely on Youtube. Brooke adds that this film, along with Collings’ and probably Pirou’s, was “marketed as being suitable for private screenings to broad-minded bachelors.” Méliès’ contribution to this innovation must have made for a few worthwhile fin de siècle bachelor parties.

Related Content:

A Trip to the Moon (and Five Other Free Films) by Georges Méliès, the Father of Special Effects

Brokeback Before Brokeback: The First Same-Sex Kiss in Cinema (1927)

Silent & Sound Shakespeare: Watch the Very First Film Adaptations of the Bard (1899-1936)

Watch The Pleasure Garden, Alfred Hitchcock’s Very First Feature Film (1925)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.


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  1. Eric R Kuhne says . . . | November 5, 2013 / 12:26 pm

    AFTER THE BALL WAS OVER u2014 My Father used to sing this little diddy after an evening’s adventure: nn’After the Ball was over,nKatie took out her glass eye; nStood her wooden leg in the corner, nHung up her hair to dry!nPut her tin ear on the dresser, nAnd her false teeth in the jar … nThen what was left of poor Katie nTo bed went after the Ball. nnTo the endless squeals of amusement of the three of us kids … and Mom’s standard refrain: ‘Bob, stop it!”

  2. deedee2die4 says . . . | November 5, 2013 / 3:36 pm

    Scene II: Enter the Donkey

  3. AndrewMilner says . . . | November 5, 2013 / 5:35 pm

    Check out Muybridge’s figure studies from the 1880s… he got a lot of people around the Penn campus to pose naked.

  4. Heather Roberts says . . . | November 6, 2013 / 12:03 am

    A delightful lesson in the history of undress. Beat that for a quick wash.

  5. Paul Zink says . . . | November 6, 2013 / 8:16 am

    Oopsu2014 the chambermaid broke the u201c4th wallu201d at the very end, with a grin at the camera.

  6. Jaybone says . . . | November 7, 2013 / 8:13 pm

    Oooo weee! Looka dat fat ass!

  7. Steve Urkel says . . . | November 7, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    Awesome resource.n

  8. Burce Willis says . . . | November 15, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    Now you know where the Kardashian’s ass really came from !!!

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