Film: 1135

Natural History | 1960 | Sound | Colour


Eadweard Muybridge - an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal progressive movements.

Pan out to reveal that the above is a cover of a book by Eadweard Muybridge. hands enter the frame and open the book cover. On the page are twelve photographs of a horse taken consecutively as it walks. Hand turns the page. On the next page is a photograph of a zoopraxiscope which appears to work along similar lines to a zoetrope. The horse pictures are on the outside of spherical pieces of plastic which resemble 7 inch vinyl records. Page is turned to writing. One paragraph is highlighted - the rest of the screen is blank. Paragraph reads "On the 27th of February 1888, the author, having contemplated some improvements on my zoopraxiscope, consulted with Mr Thomas A. Edison as to the practicability of using that instrument with the phonograph so as to combine visible actions and audible sounds."

Intertitle: And Now, over 80 years later - close up of pictures from "The Walk" page. Close up of photograph of horse's skeleton in motion. Photograph of naked woman in crouched position - two photographs of naked women (same pose). One holds up a large jug and the other, kneeling woman drinks from it. Duplicate pictures of stork-like bird. Photo of man in a loincloth holding a gun over his shoulder. Back to horses "The walk" (very fast montage). Horses seen walking - as if seen through zoopraxiscope. Also gazelle or deer walking, eagle flying, boar charging, horse pulling cart, rocking horse, goat walking, camel walking, pig running, elephant walking, horse and jockey, camel running, horse's skeleton running, shire horse and rider, naked woman on horse, naked man on horse, parrot flying, ostrich walking, dog walking, cat walking, dog and cat running, deer and stag running, various show jumpers, man about to fall off horse, tiger, man in loincloth lies on floor, fires gun at tiger, monkey walking, naked woman walking like monkey, naked man carries bricks up ladder, monkey climbs up pole, naked woman crawling, naked woman walking, elephant walking, naked man walking, naked man throwing ball, naked woman stepping over ball, naked man and woman running, naked man and woman jump hurdles, naked woman climbs ladder, naked man and woman throw balls, naked man hits ball with tennis racquet (racket) and bat. Trick shot - naked woman walking - duplicated many times and made to look like zoopraxiscope disc. Naked men fight. Naked woman carries basket on her head. Naked man lifts log. Naked man digs with pickaxe. Naked woman waters garden from a watering can, Two naked women - one drinks from other's water jug. Naked woman washes face at a bowl and towels herself. Naked woman sweeps floor. Horse carries water pail. Naked woman carries water pail. Woman sits. Naked woman pours water over seated naked woman. Naked women smoke. Naked women drink tea. Naked women waltz. Woman in dress twirls around. naked woman gets into bed. "The Walk" page. Whip pan back. Hand closes book. Intertitle: Photographed by Eadweard Muybridge during the years 1877-1885. Old naked man sits on a chair.
Intertitle: Animation by John Straiton. Finis.

Summary: a film showing part of the evolution of the moving image. Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) a still photographer who experimented with the idea of persistence of vision and the evolution of the moving image but whilst he failed to take the final step in those experiments to fully realise cinema, his work profoundly influenced those that did. An eccentric character since a bad stage coach crash in 1860, events turned tragic when he shot dead his young wife's lover, a Major Larkyns, Muybridge was acquitted on the grounds of "justifiable homicide". His relationship with the horse loving Californian governor Leland Stanford led to the "does the horse's feet leave the ground" question being resolved by his fraction of a second photographs. He then published "Animals in Motion" on these principles. Stills have been taken from Eadweard Muybridge's zoopraxiscope and made into an animated montage, which he himself would never have seen.

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