Film: 4980

Industry + Work | 1930 | Sound | B/W


Barrel making. The film explains the traditional cooper's work 1930's

We see a French cooper constructing a barrel; some animations making clear the procedures. The end is missing, so we don't see the construction of the bottom.
A man with cap and apron, sliding open the doors to a cooper's hall. Then he opens the gates to the street. He steps outside. Some barrels stand next to the door, and there is a sign with a barrel attached to the wall. He looks at the sky. Some leaves falling. 'Aaaah, it's cold today.' He enters the hall again. A dog, coming out of a barrel laid out with straw in the hall. Two men, entering the hall. They all are dressed in a rural way. The first man, caressing the dog. The other two join him. Introduction: 'Herr Valentin, cooper; Gremieu (? -> his name), craftsman, and Felix, apprentice.' They shake hands and go to work, put on their working clothes. Herr Valentin decides what has to be done today. He reads a list to Gremieu, the orders. Gremieu, nodding. Valentin's face, small spectacles. The list: 'Un demi-muid chene d'Amerique pour Nayral, le 15/11.' Valentin explains the details. His face again. Animation: The construction of a simple model of a barrel: Two stumps of cones, put on top of each other. So you can calculate the capacity of a barrel. Gremieu, thinking. - But they know what to do. - Valentin looks at his pocket watch: 8:00. The village gets crowded. An avenue with school children. We are in a French village, in a region of vine and barrels. The roofs of some houses. A woman cleaning a carpet on the balcony. In the coopery. Valentin and Gremieu in front of a pile of timber. Animation: You don't saw the timber but split it into halfs, or quarters, or eighths. Animation: the eighths of a trunk are made into rectangular blocks. - Valentin, smelling at the blocks: You can smell if it is good timber. Valentin and Gremieu take some blocks. Gremieu draws a mark on one of them (with chalk). He saws it the right size. 'A good cooper builds a barrel in two days.' Gremieu, sawing. The amount of sawed blocks increases. Gremieu, working with a small axe at a block. Animation: he forms a polygon, rounding off the corners. Gremieu, working at the other sides of the block. He puts the finished block aside, next to the others. He takes one block, puts it on a workbench and planes the surface. He examines the axe and hands it to Valentin. - You have to take care of your tools. - A grindstone. Felix sets it in motion, and Valentin grinds the axe, checks the blade with his fingers, and put it in a block of wood. Gremieu works at the side of the blocks that is to become the inside of the barrels. Animation: He decreases the thickness in the middle. - Back to the workbench. Gremieu cleans a tool with an oily piece of cloth: A small convex plane for the inside of the barrels. He planes. He needs 30 blocks of wood for the barrel. Gremieu takes a workbench and gives to the blocks their final shape. He checks the decrease of breadth from the middle to the end. He continues planing. He checks the shape of the block with a stencil. Animation: the cross-sections of the blocks, forming a circle (the barrel's cross-section). Gremieu puts the blocks next to each other and measures the sum of their breadths, first in the middle, then at the ends. - End of the first day. Gremieu puts the blocks into a bucket of water to soak during the night; then Valentin closes the doors of the coopery. Night. The silhouette of a church tower against the night sky. Next day. Gremieu takes the blocks out of the bucket. They are swollen and can now be used to form the barrel. Gremieu puts the blocks next to each other on a metal stripe. Seen from above. Nothing is put into the joints, the barrel is tight nonetheless. Gremieu finishes the procedure: All the blocks form a circle, held by the metal stripe. A cat in the hall. The blocks are reinforced by more metal stripes that are hammered further down, gradually; Gremieu walking in circles around the barrel and hammering the stripes further down. This is the traditional 'gesture' of the cooper; we see a traditional cooper's sign, showing the cooper hammering the stripes down. Close-up of the hammer. Gremieu lifts the barrel and hammers the blocks to the same level. Then he replaces the first metal stripe at the top of the barrel with a stronger one. He gets the shavings from yesterday's work, sets them into fire and puts the barrel on top, not to burn it, but to produce its arch. Unfortunately, the film ends here and so we don't see the production of the bottom of the barrel.

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