Galloping horses and – Le Prince

A young girl, a white horse

I’m back, after three years or so! Not Muybridge this time – but an intriguing possibility that ties in with the iconic images of galloping and trotting horses that mark the start of motion pictures – so I think it belongs here.

While working on David Wilkinson’s feature documentary The First Film (2015), researcher Irfan Shah became fascinated by its subject – the tragic film pioneer Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince. Irfan has continued digging through archives in search of those fragments of forgotten paperwork that when found, make all the hours of searching worthwhile.

Irfan has recently sent me material that reveals the possibility that Le Prince made a test film of a young girl leading a white horse around the garden of Oakwood Grange, Roundhay, Leeds – in 1887. So here’s the story, by the grandson of that young girl.

“24 November 2016

Hello Irfan,

My grandmother, Emmeline Calvert was born in Brazil on the 8th October 1876. Her father died there on the 10th June 1883 and the family herself, her elder brother Alfred and her mother Sarah Ann Whitley returned to England, arriving in Liverpool on the 31st Oct 1885. Sarah Ann Whitley had been estranged from the family because her father disapproved of her marriage but when she returned the family was reconciled and they often visited her brother Joseph and his wife Sarah at his house at Oakwood Grange. My grandmother told me the story, and it was reiterated to me later by my mother when I was older (my grandmother died when I was about 12) that on one occasion when she was there Augustin Louis le Prince asked her to walk a white horse around the drive on the front garden whilst he attempted to film it. I believe the area where it was filmed was the same as the section of film that survives showing the Whitley Family in their front garden and his son Adolph dancing with the accordion. Le Prince probably found this location ideal for filming because it was secure from any prying eyes trying to steal his invention and he therefore used it on probably many occasions. Also the filming of a horse moving was one of the  fascinations of early moving pictures. The film has probably been lost no doubt with a large majority of his experimental films. Attached is a photo of my grandmother at about the age of 12/13 when the filming would have been undertaken . The question of security may have been a factor in his filming of the traffic over Leeds Bridge as he took those pictures from the window of an upstairs room rather than outside in the open air where his invention was more open to any prying eyes.

I hope this helps

 Kind Regards

Geoff [Geoffrey North].”

emmeline-calvert_0001

Emmeline Calvert  (Photo courtesy Geoffrey North and Irfan Shah)

OK so not a galloping horse – that comes next!

If my memory holds good…..

This might tie in with a letter written in 1930, following newspaper publicity concerning the Le Prince-related activity in Leeds. Arthur Wood – an engineer of retirement age living in South Africa – wrote to the Mayor of Leeds concerning his involvement in 1888 with a projector being made for Le Prince by the firm of Whitley Partners, for whom Wood (then a 25-year-old) was working. Wood states: “I personally made the mechanical parts of the projector such as the pedestal, gears chains etc and was shown the film for which it was for. If my memory holds good this film was of a horse galloping although I did not see it actually projected…” [from: Career of L.A.A. Le Prince, by E. Kilburn Scott, SMPTE Journal July 1931.]

Irfan will be presenting the Emmeline Calvert material, and his conclusions concerning these two pieces and other aspects of Le Prince’s life and work, at a talk in Leeds to coincide with the Leeds Film Festival in November. There will also be a small exhibition.

Peter Bogdanovich to Direct ‘The Inventor and the Tycoon’ Miniseries

Hot news out of the blue,  from The Wrap:

By Tim Kineally, June 5.

GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES

Project will explore the origins of cinema

“The Last Picture Show” director Peter Bogdanovich will explore the story of the first picture shows for his next project.

Bogdanovich has signed on to direct a TV miniseries adaptation of Edward Ball’s 2013 book “The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures.”

The book explores the true story of motion-picture pioneer Edward Muybridge and industrialist-politician Leland Stanford, and their effect on the early days of cinema.

Bogdanovich is developing the project with Cohen Media Group, and is also serving as co-executive producer, along with Charles S. Cohen, Cohen Media Group president Daniel Battsek and Fred Roos (“The Godfather Part II”).

Bodganovich called “The Inventor and the Tycoon” a “fascinating story about the origins of cinema/beginning of movies and the amazing series of coincidences that led to that creation.”

Set in frontier-era California, Ball’s book explores how Muybridge — a murderer as well a technological pioneer — and his patron Stanford teamed to launch the age of visual media.

“Part of the screen art of Peter Bogdanovich is to make the American past look beautiful, feel intense, and to people it with rare characters,” Ball said of the adaptation. “Between Edward Muybridge, the murderer who gave us motion pictures, and Leland Stanford, the robber baron made in Gold Rush California, this 19th-century story has big American aura suited to his hands, and to CMG’s program for memorable, ambitious television.”

http://www.thewrap.com/peter-bogdanovich-to-direct-the-inventor-and-the-tycoon-miniseries/
How this news will affect the several plans for a feature film about Muybridge (one of which has already been filmed) remains to be seen.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert, with thanks and acknowledgement to The Wrap, and Getty Images.

 

Table Reading Marks Debut Of ’Man in Motion’

News from The Malibu Times of a new play about Muybridge:

By Jimy Tallal / Special to The Malibu Times

Posted on May 28, 2014 by MalibuTimesEditorial

malibu
In an unusual move, the new play, “Man in Motion,” written by local stage and television writer D. Paul Yeuell, will be introduced to its first live audience in the form of a table-reading at the Malibu Playhouse this Saturday.
Yeuell chose the format as “a good way to determine whether the material is ready for full production and maybe generate the interest of a repertory company with resources to get the play on its feet.”
Eleven actors will sit onstage facing the house and read directly from the script. Real-life Malibu married couple Jamey Sheridan and Colette Kilroy, both veteran actors, are taking on lead roles alongside a cast that includes TV/film actor Gil Bellows and eight others.

Kilroy plays a professional midwife “in an incredible predicament, being witness to the complications of the household.” Although she’ll be acting next to her real-life husband, she said, “Jamey and I will not rehearse together beforehand – we’ll see what happens in the group. I steer clear of talking about characters with actors, even my husband … For me, it’s best to discover in the playing together.”

Normally, a “table read” is a behind-the-scenes step in the pre-production process attended only by staff, with the actors bringing their characters to life for the first time behind closed doors. At this event, the audience will be folded into the process.

“It’s a great story that Paul skillfully unfolds, interweaving Muybridge’s debut of amazing footage of animals in motion at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with his murder trial. The testimony at the trial is the device for telling what happened the night of the murder. It’s a great story, and that’s what draws me into projects,” said Malibu local and successful producer Randy Olson.

Yeuell hopes to learn from the live reading whether any parts are too long or too difficult, and gather feedback from the audience at the reception afterwards.
The production team is renting the Malibu Playhouse for the event on Saturday, May 31 at 6:00 p.m. Godmother of Malibu will cater the reception following the reading. Tickets are available online only for $25 at brownpapertickets. com/event/699090.

 

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

From Kingston boy to Google Doodle

google-doodle-090412

Thursday, 8 May (this week) at 6pm I shall be giving  talk at Kingston Museum, Wheatfield Way, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2PS.

‘How did the young bookseller Ted Muggeridge from Kingston become renowned photographer Eadweard Muybridge of San Francisco, and how did Kingston Museum become the home of arguably the world’s most important Muybridge collection?’

and…

‘How is Muybridge’s work relevant to artists and the media of today?’

Find out on Thursday.

 

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

 

 

Muy Blog: Eadweard Muybridge Selection 2009-2012

Muy Blog: Eadweard Muybridge Selection 2009-2012

Now you can read Muy Blog (or at least, some of it) in olde-fashioned printed form. It’s on Amazon. My thanks to all of those whose words and pictures have helped to make this book.

bookcovers1CLICK HERE TO GO TO “LOOK INSIDE”

“There’s more to Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) than a strange name and the fact that he shot dead his wife’s lover. Best known for his sequence photographs of humans and animals in motion, the ‘galloping horse photographer’ has left a legacy of scientific and artistic work that continues to influence visual media today. A spinoff from the website The Compleat Muybridge, is Muy Blog on WordPress, keeping Muybridge enthusiasts up to date with what’s happening in the wide world of Muybridge and his images. This souvenir selection is from the first four years of news, research and comment. Read about the modern Profilograph bronze sculpture technique that morphs a galloping horse into a four-dimensional artwork, illustrating time as well as space. Follow the 1895 commotion about the hugely expensive folio Animal Locomotion: “not one in twenty thousand would undertand it…” Enjoy the evocative lyrics of “Good Evening, Major” – almost the last words that Flora Muybridge’s lover would ever hear – from the engaging video by the band Accordions. Find out what connects Ronald Reagan, Muybridge, and Death Valley. Enjoy the zoöpraxographer’s influence on the cartoonists of the late 19th century. Follow the author as he goes “In search of Helios”. Was Eadweard Muybridge really ‘The Father of the Motion Picture’? Read about the exhibitions, the controversy, and The Smartest Kid on Earth. Catch up with Muy Blog in this handy printed form.”

Paperback: 206 pages
ISBN-10: 1494844184
ISBN-13: 978-1494844189
Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.1 cm

About the Author
Stephen Herbert is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, Kingston University, London. Kingston is Muybridge’s home town. A Muybridge specialist for more than 25 years, he has lectured widely on the history of optical media and his contributions have appeared in academic journals, encyclopedias, magazines, books, films, tv , radio, and on the web. His web site The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge, together with Muy Blog on WordPress, cover the world of Muybridge in all its forms – historical research, modern artworks, digital re-imagining, and much more. Zoetropes and other ‘scopes and ‘tropes are celebrated at The Wheel of Life [stephenherbert.co.uk/wheelHOME.htm] The wider world of 19th-century motion pictures is the subject of Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema [victorian-cinema.net]. The Projection Box, established in 1994, publishes and sells monographs about pre-cinema, the magic lantern, early and silent film, and optical entertainments.

Human Locomotion in Prague

Muybridge and his work as a stage experience isn’t new, as we’ve seen in previous posts. But an entirely new take on the subject is now running in Prague, Czech Republic, at the National Theatre. Jesse Seaver at Huffington Post provides a review:

Human Locomotion Theatre in Prague: The Story of Eadweard Muybridge

The Huffington Post
by Jesse Seaver

2014-02-10-HumanLocomotion-thumb

Photo Courtesy Národní divadlo

The New Stage of the National Theatre in Prague is small, but once the show begins, surprisingly capable of providing it’s guests with a truly entertaining evening. The seats are a bit worn, but comfortable, and the building itself inspires architectural awe with its winding staircases, and glass walled multi leveled cafes. I am here tonight to see Human Locomotion, the latest multimedia production of Laterna Magika at the Narodni Divadlo. This iconic National Theatre house is near the city center, sits on the edge of the Vltava river and is a must for the lovers of the arts who visit this culturally rich city.

Led by directors Martin Kukucka and Lukas Trisovsky (SKUTR), the show brings more to the table than let on from the promotional flyers and website descriptions. The set, the lights, the music, the dancing and the acting were all well worth the four curtain calls worth of applause the cast received at shows end.

A beautiful, and humorous rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” begins the melodic journey from Petr Kaleb that transports the audience, smoothly, through the use of an elaborate set and projection by Jakub Kopecký, with help on costumes from Jana Morávková. The storyline is well written, performed in a mix of Czech and English, but always with English subtitles projected. The show tells the story of Eadweard Muybridge (Marek Daniel), the British inventor who had a critical impact on the world of photography and beyond. His most famous work captures a horse running using multiple cameras, and represented the invention of Chronophotography.

This troubled man, and genius, dedicated his life with obsession to his invention, but not at little cost. As he is tormented through his genius, he consequently destroyed his personal life and marriage to his beautiful wife Flora (Zuzana Stavna). She was pushed away into an affair with Major Harry Larkyns (Jakub Gottwald), a dashing, purple tuxedo-wearing troublemaker slash magician. Eadweard eventually shoots the Major, and is tried for murder, but is let off on grounds of justifiable homicide and allowed to complete his work.

What appears at first view to be a static backdrop is transformed into a multi-story, multi-level deep set, complete with animations skillfully painted across the stage using multiple HDX projectors. The entire set is designed to be inside of a camera, so to speak, I presume so that the audience is always peering into the life and view of Eadweard. Flora and Major Henry share an amazingly well done love scene, from inside a box, again meant to be a camera, while the audience is shown the actors passion through magical projection onto a dancer positioned on a five sided screen. The bending, waving light, along with the perfectly selected soundtrack, and Eadweards’ character slumped at the far other end of the stage, made this the most powerful scene for me. An elevated, slow motion fight scene, was also extremely well done. Many examples of choreographer Jan Kodets’ masterful ability to tell a story with her dancers combined itself well with the score, which was full of emotion, and the perfect amount of space to allow the actors to intersect and participate. All in all, the production of this show was a real treat, and a great Saturday evening out in Prague.

If you are a lover of modern dance and multimedia theater you should add this show to your list to try and catch. It will show again in Prague in March and April, and if the rest of the world is lucky, it will go on tour.

Jesse Seaver

re-posted here by Stephen Herbert. More here:
http://www.novascena.cz/en/repertoar/1079.html
Trailer from YouTube, below.

Credits:

Stage – Directors: Skutr (Martin Kukučka, Lukáš Trpišovský)
Choreography: Jan Kodet
Stage-design: Jakub Kopecký
Music: Petr Kaláb
Projections, programming: Jakub Kopecký, Lunchmeat