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Continuity and Context

Mary Jane’s Mishap Or, Don’t Fool with the Paraffin

G. A. Smith, Great Britain, 1903

This film is notable for its mix of medium or medium long shots to present the main action (left) and long shots to establish or reaffirm spatial context (right). It also features some early special effects. After the titular heroine is blown through the chimney (right), for example, some women gather to mourn at her grave, where Mary Jane’s ghost—a product of superimposition—appears to frighten them off. In addition, Smith twice uses wipes (transitions effected by a vertical line sweeping horizontally across the frame) to indicate changes of scene.

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