Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa Claus -- The 1898 version, not the one with Dudley Moore as an elf

Talk about your blast from the past: Just three years after Auguste and Louis Lumiere unveiled their cinématographe in Paris, British film pioneer G.A. Smith made this extraordinary short. As Michael Brooke writes for the British Film Institute, Santa Claus "is a film of considerable technical ambition and accomplishment for the period. A former magic lanternist and hypnotist, Smith was one of the first British filmmakers -- indeed, one of the first filmmakers anywhere -- to make extensive use of special effects to create fantastical scenes... It comes as little surprise that Smith corresponded with the French pioneer Georges Méliès at about this time, as the two men shared a common goal in terms of creating an authentic cinema of illusion." As I said: Extraordinary.

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