See the moving picture

See the moving picture

FIGURE 3.10

The Trick Films of R.W. Paul and W.R. Booth

Upside Down: or, The Human Flies (1899—top left) was one of the first films that Booth, a one-time magician, made for Paul. The effect—a magician allows two couples to dance on the ceiling—was achieved by simply turning both the camera and an invertible set upside down at the same time. Undressing Extraordinary: or, The Troubles of a Tired Traveler (1901—top right) is a very early example of a theme that would eventually become quite popular in cinema comedy—the refusal of inanimate objects to behave the way they’re supposed to. Booth used a series of carefully choreographed stop-motion shots to make the scene—in which a tired (and slightly tipsy) man can’t get into bed because his clothes keep changing—seem like a series of events captured in a single take. Artistic Creation (1901—bottom left) also relies on stop motion. Starting with her head, the artist-magician draws a woman, removing each illustrated feature from the canvas and attaching it to a live-action assemblage of a woman. She must ultimately persuade him to finish the half-completed job, but when he then starts to draw a baby, the newly created woman, realizing that it’s about to be foisted on her, flees the stage. Much more elaborate is Magic sword—A Mediaeval Mystery (1901—bottom right), a miniature sword-and-sorcery epic in which stop motion permits Booth to change damsels into witches and turn an ogre’s head into a giant skull. In the scene shown here, an outsized monster threatens the hero on the battlements of a castle.

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