Monkeyshines 1 & 2 (1889)

by popegrutch


Directed by: W.K.L. Dickson and William Heise

What defines a movie? Is it simply any moving image, or does it need to have certain parameters? What about moving images created by magic lantern effects? What about shadow puppetry, such as people make with their hands or paper cutouts? At what point does a clever trick turn into a cinematic event? These brief examples of early experimentation lie on the border between “movie” and “not a movie.” These were never intended for public viewing (indeed, no projection device existed at the time of creation), they were simply laboratory experiments to see how the camera was working. I always find it a little creepy to watch them: the figures are blurred almost to the point of being non-human blobs, they look almost more like animation than filmed images of people. But, with experiments like these, the technicians at Edison moved the world closer to a new cultural medium.

Run Time: about 45 seconds each

You can watch them for free: here (or by clicking on the image to the right here)