Thursday, December 29, 2011

Upside Down; or, The Human Flies - 1899

Country: United States | United Kingdom
Language: English
Director: Walter R. Booth
Release Date: September 1899 (UK)
Production Co: Robert W. Paul
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short
A Spiritualist causes a group of table-turners to walk upside down on the ceiling.
Robert Paul is a largely forgotten name today, but he was a major pioneer of British cinema, and was quick to grasp the commercial potential of cinema in ways that better known pioneers such as William Friese-Greene were not. He was more of a mechanic than a filmmaker making, with Birt Acres, his own camera on which to shoot films in 1895, and also Britain's first projector, the Animatograph, with which to screen them in 1896. Early in the 20th century he had a custom-made studio built in Muswell Hill.
This early trick film is actually quite impressive, and is easily the equal of anything produced by French master Georges Melies. It shows a group of people being 'entertained' in their home by a medium, who is portrayed as little more than a magician. His big trick is to make himself disappear and turn the room upside down so that we can watch his audience standing, walking, rolling around on the ceiling, etc.

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