Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lights and Shades on the Bostock Circus Farm - 1911

Country: United Kingdom
This is not necessarily the most promising of titles, or, indeed, a very accurate one, either. There's certainly a lot of shade, but the only light comes from the flames of the funeral pyre that consume a dead circus elephant shortly after its corpse has been unceremoniously dragged across a field by 50 carthorses.
Augmented by German inter-titles (the BFI's film print was once part of the Swiss Abbé Joye's extraordinary collection), the effect is not unlike a bleakly Expressionist reworking of 'Dumbo'. Unmissable or unwatchable, depending on your own particular sensibility.
The Bostock Circus was American, but toured Europe extensively during this period, including visits to Britain. (Robin Baker)

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