Film: 2630

Feature Comedy | 1900 | Silent | B/W

Synopsis:

The films:
1) House that Jack built (Smith 1900) 0'30''

A girl has built a castle of small wood blocks. A boy destroys it. The girl gets angry. 'Reversed' - It is shown backwards.

George Albert Smith (1864-1959) started as a magic lantern show performer at his pleasure garden at St Ann's Well Hove near Brighton and these skills show in the films he made. The fact that he corresponded with the great French film pioneer Georges Melies show that blend of magic tricks and the latest technology with a good helping of showmanship were essential ingredients for popular films in the 1890's. GA Smith saw the Lumiere show in March 1896 and probably saw Robert Paul's Theatrograph show also at this time. As early as 1897 he was making his own, assisted by Alfred Darling and using chemicals from Williamson. Already by 1900, American film output was outstripping the distribution ability of someone like Smith, so he diverted towards interest in developing colour with Kinemacolor. Yet by 1914, he left cinema altogether following a dispute with William Friese-Greene, and turned to astronomy.

2) Upside Down (Human Flies) (Paul 1898) 0'46''

A party of 3 men and two women. One of the men shows tricks: first he makes a hat fly into the air, then he vanishes. Suddenly the people stand upside down on the ceiling (picture inverted), dance around, turn cartwheels, put on hats, have an umbrella.

Robert Paul (1869-1943) was one of Britain's greatest pioneers of the moving image. Starting as an instrument maker, he was asked to reproduce Edison's kinetoscope and experiments with another pioneer Birt Acres produced five different models for the movie camera with such innovations as the modern type sprocket hole to protect the film as it moves though the gate of a projector and the "maltese cross" type mechanism for smooth projection. He invented the "Theatrograph" and demonstrated it on the same night as the Lumiere Brothers screened their famous film show at the Regent Street Polytechnic in February 1895. But he also made films, a few of which have survived.

3) Brahmin and Butterfly (Melies 1900) 1'14''

In a jungle (painted on the stage). A magician walks on, then brings a huge empty barrel or vase. He plays on the flute. A huge snake or worm or caterpillar creeps on the stage. The magician puts it into the vase. A flying butterfly or woman appears and dances around. The magician chases her, covers her with a blanket. She freezes. Two women take the blanket away, reveal a beautiful woman. She transforms the magician into a huge snake (or worm or caterpillar).

4) The ? Motorist (R.W. Paul 1906) 1'26''

A policeman wants to stop a car, it doesn't stop, he falls on the bonnet and is hit by the drivers. Around a bend. He falls off, runs after the car. Shop fronts. The car arrives and drives up the fronts. The policeman arrives and points up. More spectators. The car flying over the roofs of a city. Driving over clouds in a star sprinkled sky. Driving around a smiling moon. Driving around the ring of a planet, then falling down. Falling down through the clouds. Crashing into a roof. A court trial. The car races past. The people run after it. On the street. The driver is arrested. Suddenly the car turns into horse and carriage. They drive off, in the car again.

Robert Paul (1869-1943) was one of Britain's greatest pioneers of the moving image. Starting as an instrument maker, he was asked to reproduce Edison's kinetoscope and experiments with another pioneer Birt Acres produced five different models for the movie camera with such innovations as the modern type sprocket hole to protect the film as it moves though the gate of a projector and the "maltese cross" type mechanism for smooth projection. He invented the "Theatrograph" and demonstrated it on the same night as the Lumiere Brothers screened their famous film show at the Regent Street Polytechnic in February 1895. But he also made films, a few of which have survived.

5) The Magic Screen (Pathe trick film 1912) 1'16''

A magician makes a screen move over the stage. The screen transform into a different screen. The magician behind it. In each part of the screen we can see the magician walking, lifting his hat, bowing (5 times the magician) the screen turns into a cinema screen. Magician above. On the screen: Two couples, turning on a platform, dissolving into a kind of a carousel. The screen again. The magician bows, the parts of the screen 'step' back; bend behind each of them a human being, bowing. Two of them start to burn and become dancers, others vanish or dissolve into dancers. The magician bows. The screen again. It moves back into its first position.

The Pathe Frere Co of Paris was founded in 1896 and in 1902 acquired the Lumiere patents to produce both films and camera/projectors. They are also credited with being the first regular newsreel company, showing news and their entertainment films in their own chain of movie theatres in France and beyond. They constantly innovated the camera, the projector and their hand stencil colour techniques were very special.

6) Dante's Inferno (Italy 1911; extract) 1'17''

Two men in a cave. Heads look out of the ground. In the background, a giant, eating humans. Close up giant, eating a human being. People flying around in formation. Two flying women arrive, talk to the two men, fly away. The flying people again.

Directed by Giuseppe De Liguoro, this was Italy's first full length feature film and breathtaking in its innovative use of special effects and artistic intrepretation of the Dante work.

7) Invisible Thief (Pathe 1909, H.G. Wells) 3'18''

In front of a book shop. A man shows the book 'L'homme invisible' by G.H. Wells, The Invisible Man, to another man. He buys it. In his house. He walks upstairs, enters his room. Reads, excited. Throws other books from his table and gets some test tubes, according to the instructions in the book. He mixes them together, drinks. Suddenly only his clothes are visible. He takes them off and is totally invisible. In a dining room. A servant. Two people arrive and go through. A bar flies through the air (carried by the invisible man), chairs and the table move. The doors close. A cupboard moves, opens. Sheets, books etc. move out. Another cupboard moves. Dishes, plates, cups etc. move out and wrap themselves into paper, then fly away. In the thief's room. The package with the dishes arrives, flies to the table. The thief puts on his clothes again (and a mask so we can see his head), leaves the room, runs down the stairs. In the street. He steals two wallets from a couple. Policemen arrive. They all run after the thief. The thief runs up the stairs, policemen follow. In the room. The thief puts chairs and table in front of the door, waits. The policemen break the door, grab the thief and suddenly have only the clothes in their hands, the thief invisible. A chair flies through the air and hits them, they run away. Down the stairs.


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