The Pathescope Kid

Picked this up for a tenner in a junk/antique shop in Edinburgh’s Causewayside. It’s an original Pathéscope Kid, the follow-up to the Pathé Baby, a 9.5mm projector, manufactured between 1930 and 1933. Since that exactly coincides with the period when Bernard Natan was running Pathé, this is a delightful find for the NATAN film I’m making with Paul Duane — we can use it as a prop.

This little gizmo tells a whole story in itself. The Pathé Baby had been popular with home cinema aficionados, but with the stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression, they weren’t selling so well. The Pathéscope Kid was designed to be cheaper and thus to sell more.

My Kid is missing several parts, including the reels and any mechanism for getting electricity into it, which doesn’t greatly matter as I don’t have any 9.5mm film (the crazy stuff with the perforations down the middle) anyway. For decorative purposes only, but it sure is decorative!

Ultimately, the Pathé Baby, a tiny part of the Pathé empire, gave rise to a crooked scheme which ultimately destroyed Natan, the most dynamic and effective European producer of the era — a tale which shall be unfolded in our film (coming soon to a cinema near you).

4 Responses to “The Pathescope Kid”

  1. Jean-Pierre Melville as a young boy(hard to imagine I know) made films with a Pathe baby gifted to him by his parents. It was his first camera. So Monsieur Natan’s invention had one long-term non-profit return at least.

  2. “Home cinema” as a concept is older than a lot of people today probably imagine. Love the idea of Melville practicing with Natan’s toy camera.

  3. What I love about this scene, apart from the obvious merits, is the fact that his camera is at chest height but what it sees is at eye level, and when she looks into his eyes she’s looking into the lens. NOT a mistake, I feel, but rather a deliberate conflation of man and camera.

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