See the moving  
Picture

Figure 4.23

The Spectacle of the Accepted Version

Jack and the Beanstalk

Edwin S. Porter, Edison Manufacturing Co., USA, 1902

This elaborate (and expensive) fairy tale was designed as a series of spectacular scenes whose narrative logic depended heavily on the audience’s familiarity with the story. The Edison catalogue described it as “a grand spectacular performance in nine scenes and one tableau. . . . [E]very scene [is] posed with a view to following as closely as possible the accepted version of Jack and the Beanstalk,” and the attraction of key scenes is enhanced by “many surprising new tricks and dissolving effects.” On the left, the good fairy informs the town butcher that Jack will soon appear with a cow that can be bought for a hatful of beans. After Jack has dispatched the giant and captured the hen that lays the golden eggs, the fairy transforms him into a well-dressed gentleman, in which guise he returns triumphantly to his mother (center). The “one tableau” is the film’s final shot (right), in which the good fairy escorts Jack and his mother to their new castle.

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