Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory - 1897

Country: United States
Stars: Thomas A. Edison as himself (uncredited)
Release Date: June 1897 (USA)
Also known as: Edison a laboratóriumában dolgozik (Hungary)
Filming Locations: West Orange, New Jersey, USA
Production Co: Edison Manufacturing Company
Runtime: USA: 0 min (2004 National Film Preservation Foundation print)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Laboratory | Chemistry | Thomas Alva Edison | Character Name In Title
Genres: Documentary | Short
"This film is remarkable in several respects. In the first place, it is full life-size. Secondly, it is the only accurate recent portrait of the great inventor. The scene is an actual one, showing Mr. Edison in working dress engaged in an interesting chemical experiment in his great Laboratory. There is sufficient movement to lead the spectator through the several processes of mixing, pouring, testing, etc. as if he were side by side with the principal. The lights and shadows are vivid, and the apparatus and other accessories complete a startling picture that will appeal to every beholder." Written by Edison Catalog   
The DVD and restoration copy was copied at 18 frames per second from the 35mm original preserved at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
One of the 50 films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931" (2004), compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, has a running time of about 32 seconds and an added piano music score.
This was actually a stage promotional piece disguised as a documentary of Edison. 
It hardly matters that this footage is in itself rather simple and straightforward. Given the amazing number of Thomas Edison's ideas and inventions that have become a part of our daily lives, the chance to see him doing almost anything would be worthwhile. And so it is very fortunate that this short feature has been preserved.
The movie shows Edison at work in one of his labs, here apparently working with chemicals of some kind. While this is known to have been staged in a studio, it looks very realistic, and it gives you the opportunity to imagine that you are watching him work.
Practically everyone benefits every day from the fruits of Edison's imagination and perseverance. Touring the labs of his that have been preserved is a fascinating chance to imagine what it must have been like to see him at work. This little feature does not capture the full range of sights to be found in one of his actual workplaces, but in exchange it has the rare footage of the great inventor himself, as he would have looked while at work.

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