Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Acrobatic Fly - 1910

Propped upon the tail-end of a match, a housefly performs astonishing feats, alternately juggling a series of objects - a blade of grass, a cork, a miniature dumbbell... Most extraordinary of all is the sequence in which the fly spins a ball twice its own size, while a second fly perches on top. In the final sequence, the fly repeats some of its earlier tricks while apparently seated on a tiny chair.
This truly delightful (or singularly repellent) film is the work of Percy Smith, pioneer of a particularly engaging early form of natural filmmaking. 'The Acrobatic Fly' is one of a series of Smith films on similar subjects around this time, and near identical to, though briefer than, a sequence in his 1911 release 'The Strength and Agility of Insects', which also features similarly impressive accomplishments by a scorpion, a flea, a grasshopper and a praying mantis. Viewers might worry about the techniques used to secure such performances, but Smith always insisted that his stars were none the worse for their moment in the spotlight. (Mark Duguid)
For more information about filmmaker Percy Smith see

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