Cecil M. Hepworth – Alice in Wonderland (1903)

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Feature film 1903 UK

This was the very first film version of “Alice” and encapsulated much of the “Wonderland” story into a short ten minute feature. Despite the infancy of the film-making process, the production included some creditable special effects and Alice grew and shrank to good effect. The film is preserved by the British Film Institute, although two of the sixteen scenes are missing.
“The History of the British Film: 1896-1906” by Rachael Low and Roger Manvell (distributed in the USA by R.R. Bowker, 1948, 1973) offers this description: (see above right)
“The film is composed of sixteen scenes, dissolving very beautifully from one to another, but preceded, where necessary for the elucidation of the story, by descriptive titles.”
The book proceeds to describe the 16 scenes in considerable detail and also offers a brief entry on the Hepworth Manufacturing Company and its founder, Cecil Hepworth (born 1874). Continue reading

Various – Early Cinema : Primitives & Pioneers (1895 – 1910)

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www.bfi.org.uk wrote:
The BFI’s fascinating collection of 60 short films all made before 1911 comes to DVD with the aim of giving wider access to some of the extraordinary film material held in the National Film and Television Archive, much of which has been restored. Although most films made at this time were actualities and newsreels, this collection contains mostly fiction films, ranging from the dramatic to the comic and the fantastical.

This double-disc set provides an entertaining look at how many film devices such as the close-up, the cut-away and editing, were first invented by film-makers before the turn of the century. Continue reading

Franz Hofer – Hurra! Einquartierung! (1913)

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This film comes from the Schloss Archive of His Highness, Herr Graf Ferdinand von Galitzien:

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Quote:
Born Franz Wygand Wüstenhöfer in Malstatt (Saarland), Hofer began his career as a stage actor and playwright in 1909. A year later he began working as a screenwriter for Messter’s Henny Porten series and for directors such as Viggo Larsen—Die schwarze Katze [The Black Cat] (1910)—and Walter Schmidthässler—Das Weib ohne Herz [The Woman Without a Heart] and Der Zug des Herzens [The Pull of the Heart] (both 1912). Continue reading

Georges Méliès – Le monstre aka The Monster (1903)

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Plot Synopsis:
An Egyptian prince has lost his beloved wife and he has sought a dervish who dwells at the base of the sphinx. The prince promises him a vast fortune if the dervish will only give him the opportunity of gazing once more upon the features of his wife. The dervish accepts the offer. He brings in from a neighboring tomb the receptacle containing the remains of the princess. He opens it and removes the skeleton, which he places upon the ground close beside him. Then, turning to the moon and raising his arms outstretched toward it, he invokes the moon to give back life to her who is no more. The skeleton begins to move about, becomes animated, and arises. The dervish puts it upon a bench and covers it with a white linen; a masque conceals its ghostly face. Continue reading

Georges Méliès – L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle (1899)

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Although Georges Méliès’ The Conjuror (L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle) was was one of his earliest movies, it’s also an excellently realized example of Méliès’ basic style of cinematic magic.

The Conjuror revisits a scene that Méliès had explored before, and is basically a cinematic adaptation of the traditional magic trick “making the assistant disappear”. Méliès first presented this scene in his 1896 film The Vanishing Lady, which used simple camera stop-substitution to achieve the affect (no motion involved, and no in-camera dissolve). Méliès revisited the idea in his 1898 film The Magician, which made further use of the substitution effect, which by that time was only one of many effects that Méliès was using in his films. Continue reading