England’s First Comic Film

The Soldier’s Courtship

R.W. Paul, Great Britain, 1896

This little skit, which starred husband-and-wife music-hall headliners, was the first comic movie made in England. This frame was preserved in a filoscope, a device much like a “riffle book” in which images are printed on separate leaves and produce the illusion of movement when the leaves are flicked; in the filoscope, they’re activated by a tiny brass lever. This image is actually a small photographic print made from Paul’s original negative and reprinted in its actual size; the whole film was reproduced, frame by frame, for the filoscope, which was invented by H.W. (“Harry”) Short, a friend of Paul’s who soon became one of his cameramen.

Back to CHAPTER 3/Part 1