The Early Cinema: Trick Films


Accidents Will Happen, (1903) Motion Picture and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress

Besides "actualities," the earliest projected films drew heavily on trick photography and illusion. The gave audiences slapstick scenes twisted, and warped ordinary reality. They flouted authority and delighted in absurdity. This silly little film is typical. Ordinary life in America, especially for working class Americans, seemed to involve more and more observation, regimentation, and automation. Industrial accidents were a constant threat. But the early films treated the body as plastic, magical.