Film Parade (1933)
Pioneering British moviemaker J. Stuart Blackton was the guiding force behind Film Parade, a clip-filled pageant celebrating the rise of the film industry in both England and America. Tracing the theory of "persistence of movement" back to the Egyptian wall paintings of 2000 years ago, Blackton then expounds upon such technological developments as Da Vinci's "camera obscura" and the Zoetrope. This brings us to the late 19th century, when such visionaries as Thomas Edison and Cecil Hepworth transforming motion pictures from a mere novelty to a commercial viability. In one scene, Blackton and his staff re-create the crude "special effects" used in the early 1900s to re-create such news events as the sinking of the Maine. Much of the American footage in Film Parade was culled from the vaults of the Vitagraph studios; one of the films represented is 1917's My Official Wife, which featured a bit player who looked a great deal like Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky. Thanks to Blackton's misinformed narration, the myth of Trotsky's "film career" was born, a fallacy that has persisted to this day. Otherwise, Film Parade is a generally accurate and entertaining pastiche, eminently suitable for casual movie fans who like their film history presented in broad, generalized strokes. … More
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