The Magic Box - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Magic Box Reviews

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½ October 25, 2014
A quite quaint dramatisation of one of the first ever inventors of a camera with motion capture capability. The story itself is one of quite strong sadness as poor old Friese-Green struggling to keep his, and his families, head above water while he works away below stairs on his invention. Everything is as you'd expect from a well made early 50's British movie, and it is quite an insight into the inner workings of late Victorian/Edwardian photography and life in general. Anyone with interest in either early cinema or British classics (or both) should give this a hunt down.
July 26, 2014
Rather unusual film about an unsung hero of cinema technology. Also delicious as a showpiece for British movie making in the 1950s.
February 22, 2014
A beautiful telling of the life of one of the pioneers of cinema.
January 22, 2014
all star cast brings this drama to life.
½ July 31, 2013
One of the most apt films to be made given it pays tribute to the man that makes it possible. It's a fairly sad story of hardship and a lack of recognition for one of the major entertainment devices of modern times which Robert Donat plays perfectly. The British cast is relentless, but easy to miss given the amount of cameos.
July 30, 2013
A wonderful biopic about William Friese Greene who was a pioneer of cinema in developing the first camera to be able to show moving pictures. Donat's performance is sublime and a host of cameos gives the fan of classic cinema much to enjoy.
½ March 15, 2011
A deeply sympathetic and romanticised portrait of William Friese-Greene, the man who patented the first motion picture camera. Oscar winner Robert Donat is likeable as Friese-Greene and Margaret Johnson and Maria Schell deliver strong performances as the two loves of his life. Featuring cameos by a host of British screen legends - including Laurence Oliver, Peter Ustinov and Margaret Rutherford - THE MAGIC BOX is a real treat for movie buffs!
January 27, 2010
Excellent story of William Friese-Greene, one of the pioneers in the development of the motion picture. Wonderfully played by Robert Donat, nice production values and a solid screenplay that uncharacteristically does not portray the inventor always in a positive light. That's unusual, especially in the era it was filmed. A wonderful film.
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2009
Original and beautiful looking film about one of the inventors of the movie camera. Jack Cardiff's stark color cinematography along with John Boulting's great direction of the all-star cast is really worth seeing. What was original was how the flashbacks were handled. It starts off with Donat as a old man,then middle age, and then young, very original for the time and very effective. It goes into great detail on how William Friese-Green went from a great successful photographer to a obsessive scientist risking everything to develop a new medium. The scene between Donat and Olivier with the first viewing of motion pictures is amazing.
December 6, 2009
very interesting to see how the motion picture was created! good old scenematic techniques, real effort put in acting, big story found by flashbacks and a biographical input of Willie.real classic!
September 23, 2009
A cleverly structured biopic about William Friese-Greene, one of history's forgotten inventors of the moving picture camera. Worth seeing if only for the scene with Laurence Olivier witnessing the very first moving image.
August 18, 2009
Noble intentions guided the making of this film, but the result is disappointingly earnest and banal. Robert Donat plays the lead with the stiff British upper lip and the rest of the cast is filled with star cameos. Laurence Olivier's brief appearance invigorates things momentarily, but most of the running time is ponderous. The script is unclear on many points such as the extent of Freise-Greene's influence on film and the fate of his three sons who while underage join the army to help with expenses.
½ January 6, 2009
good bio-pic about one of film's pioneers
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