This film is held by the BFI (ID: 394443).


Harvesting and canning of pineapples in Singapore.

Chinese locals work in the pineapple fields. A man, shot from below, cuts the stem of a pineapple and loads it into the large basket on his back. Another man trims the leaves off a pineapple with a machete and throws the fruit into a basket. The men then dump the collected fruit in a pile, before a three-man chain loads the pineapples onto a cart. A title states 'Loading and Transport to the Factory', as an ox-driven cart travels through the streets. The cart is tipped over, and the pineapples sorted. The factory and harbour are evident in the background, as the fruits are further trimmed. The pineapple is cut into cubes and a small boy loads them into tins. The tins are then sealed up, before another local worker puts a label around them. The film ends abruptly here, although a version of the film concludes with a shot of a western woman at a table with wine and with a glass stand heaped with pineapples, which she pours sugar on and eats.



From the establishment of offices in Moscow in February 1904 and New York in August, Pathé Frères quickly developed a network of agents throughout Europe and North America. During 1907, it further expanded its worldwide distribution network to South America and Africa and also opened up in India (in June) and then in August, in Singapore (Abel, 1993, 368). Fernand Dreyfus was Pathé’s accredited agent in Singapore, dominating the movie market there over the next few years (Millet, 2005, 17).

Pathé Frères also produced films overseas which these agents distributed throughout the world. For example, in December 1908 the Australian Minister for External Affairs announced an arrangement with Pathé Frères to produce a ‘number of moving pictures relating to Australia and its life and industries’, at a cost of no more than £2200, for worldwide distribution (Hobart Mercury, 18 December 1908, 5). Pathé had filmmakers touring throughout the world in 1909 and released a series of pictures relating to Singapore during the following year. These included the ‘beautifully colored’ Coco-nut Plantation in Singapore (1910), which highlighted the ‘variety of uses to which this humble fruit may be put’ and the ‘remarkable ingenuity of the natives’, Singapore (1910), which showed the Malay and Chinese quarters, Amusements in Singapore on New Year’s Day (1911), and Récolte et Préparation des Ananas (Pineapple Industry, 1910) (Bioscope, 10 February 1910, 55). Pineapple Industry was released in England in April 1910, played at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris at the end of May and also played in New Zealand, for example at the Royal Albert Hall in Auckland in September (presented by Henry Hayward) (Bioscope, 22 April 1910, 27, Bousquet, 1993, 283). It was described in the Auckland Herald as ‘a beautifully-tinted portrayal of the pineapple canning industry at Singapore. The picture was as interesting as it was beautiful, and evoked merited applause’ (Colonist, 24 September 1910, 2).

The pineapple industry in Singapore was closely aligned to the rubber industry and was developed during this period predominantly by Chinese entrepreneurial figures, such as Lim Nee Soon (‘the Pineapple King’) who resigned as General Manager of the recently-formed Sembawang Rubber Estates in 1911 to set up his own business as a rubber and pineapple planter, factory owner, and merchant. Historian W. G. Huff explained that ‘Singapore Chinese grew pineapples between rubber saplings while waiting for these to mature: income from sales of the fruit greatly reduced the capital outlay needed to bring a rubber estate into being, and until the 1930s pineapple cultivation existed almost solely “as a means to the end of inauguration of rubber plantations”’ (Huff, 1997, 76). By 1907 pineapple exports had reached 27,000 tons and until World War 1 remained greater than rubber exports. The expansion of Chinese rubber estates in the 1920s would see a further increase in pineapple exports (to 55,000 tons), as Singapore became the largest exporter of tinned pineapples after Hawaii. The majority of these exports went to Britain where British Malayan pineapples were recognised as ‘the poor man’s dish’, accounting for a quarter of all British imports of tinned fruit (Huff, 1997, 76). The increase in exports was also noted in Australia in 1910, where Federal Representatives asked the Minister of Customs to place a higher duty on tinned pineapples. ‘It was stated’, the Adelaide Advertiser noted, ‘that Singapore caning firms sent their goods to Australia in ever increasing quantities, and by degrees the Australian product was being shut out of the market’ (Adelaide Advertiser, 3 November 1910, 11).

The Colonial Report for 1909 noted the ‘phenomenal’ increase in rubber planting during the year, as wasteland was cultivated as rubber and pineapple fields. ‘In Singapore most of this cultivation is under Chinese control, but there are three European-owned estates’ (The Times, 18 January 1911, 20). Huff argued that after 1910 the growth of rubber and pineapple cultivation and canning became ‘easily the most conspicuous source of Singapore Chinese wealth, and provided a springboard for industrialisation and the growth of local Chinese deposit banking’ (Huff, 1997, 79). 



Pineapple Industry charts the process of pineapple cultivation from the fields, to the factory, to the tins and finally onto the plate of a western woman (not shown in this print). In its narrative construction, the film offers an early, well-formed example of an industrial process film, and moreover, in its final scene, relates the manufacture of the product directly to its western audience. The focus on industry ­– evident also, for example, in Coco-nut Plantation in Singapore and in Pathé Frères’s Australian pictures – illustrates a popular emphasis on displaying foreign industries and, even within this French production, on representing and defining colonies in economic terms, through their products.

Pineapple Industry depicts the Chinese involvement in local production, highlighting a non-mechanised industry and showing scenes of local workers and streets. Reviews noted the film’s aesthetic beauty, as with other Pathé Frères’ colour productions, such as Coconut Plantation in Singapore and Fishing with Dynamite in the Solomon Islands (1909). By 1910 Pathé was said to colour 300 to 400 copies of each film through its mechanical stencilling system (Pathé Color) and it was often exotic travelogues and scenes of foreign lands that received this treatment (Read, 2009, 16). The impact of this colour on the audience’s engagement with film has been widely debated. Pathé Color was, as Nicola Mazzanti argued, increasingly ‘employed (and extensively advertised) for its ability to simulate natural colours’, yet despite this ‘realistic motivation’, Tom Gunning argued that the colours often functioned as ‘attention-grabbing attractions and incitements to fantasy… [rather than] carefully observed images of nature’ (Gunning, 1994). The colours are perhaps best understood then not in terms of a ‘realistic’ reproduction, but as a means to bring a vibrancy to these films and highlight the exoticism of the images.

Tom Rice (October 2009)


Works Cited

Abel, Richard, ‘In the Belly of the Beast: The Early Years of Pathe-Freres’, Film History, Volume 5, Number 4, December 1993, 363-385.

‘Federal Affairs’, Adelaide Advertiser, 3 November 1910, 11.

‘A Coco-nut Tree Plantation in Singapore’, Bioscope, 10 February 1910, 55.

‘The Tinned Pineapple Industry’, Bioscope, 21 April 1910, 27.

‘Singapore’, Bioscope, 8 December 1910, 27.

Bousquet, Henri, Catalogue Pathé des Années 1894 à 1914: 1910-1911 (Paris: Henri Bousquet, 1993).

‘Amusements’, Colonist, 24 September 1910, 2.

Gunning, Tom, 'Colourful Metaphors: the Attraction of Colour in Early Silent Cinema', Fotogenia 1(1994), 249–255.

‘Cinematograph Pictures of Australia’, Hobart Mercury, 18 December 1908, 5.

Huff, W.G., The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Mazzanti, Nicola, ‘Colours, Audiences, and (dis)continuity in the “Cinema of the Second Period”’, Film History: An International Journal 21.1, 2009, 67-93.

Read, Paul, ‘"Unnatural Colours”: An Introduction to Colouring Techniques in Silent Era Movies’, Film History: An International Journal 21.1, 2009, 9-46.

‘Rubber in the Straits Settlements’, The Times, 18 January 1911, 20.



  • ANANAS (Alternative)
  • ANANASERNTE (Alternative)
  • PINEAPPLE INDUSTRY (Alternative)

Technical Data

Running Time:
7 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
439 ft

Production Credits

Production Company
Pathé Frères