Film Before Film

Opti­cal toys, shadow shows, ‘magic lanterns’ and visual tricks have existed for thou­sands of years. Many inven­tors, sci­en­tists, and man­u­fac­tur­ers have observed the visual phe­nom­e­non that a series of indi­vid­ual still pic­tures set into motion cre­ated the illu­sion of move­ment — a con­cept termed per­sis­tence of vision.

Film Before Film is an exhil­a­rat­ing and amus­ing ency­clo­pe­dic look at the “pre­his­tory” of cinema.

Werner Nekes charts the fas­ci­na­tion with mov­ing pic­tures which led to the birth of film, cov­er­ing shadow plays, peep shows, flip books, flicks, magic lanterns, lithopanes, panoramic, scrolls, col­or­ful forms of early ani­ma­tion, and numer­ous other his­tor­i­cal artiffices.

Work­ing with these for­mats, early “pro­duc­ers” cre­ated melo­dra­mas, come­dies, — as well as lots of pornog­ra­phy – antic­i­pat­ing most of the forms known today.

Nekes probes these col­or­ful toys and inven­tions in a rich and reward­ing opti­cal experience.

Film Before Film is a bewil­der­ing assault of exotic (and some­times erotic) images and illusions.


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