5.4/10
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5 user 2 critic

The Sculptor's Nightmare (1908)

At a political club, the members debate whose bust will replace that of Theodore Roosevelt. Unable to agree, each goes to a sculptor's studio and bribes him to sculpt a bust of the ... See full summary »

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At a political club, the members debate whose bust will replace that of Theodore Roosevelt. Unable to agree, each goes to a sculptor's studio and bribes him to sculpt a bust of the individual favorite. Instead, the sculptor spends their fees on a dinner with his model during which he becomes so inebriated that he is taken to jail. There he has a nightmare, wherein three busts are created and animated from clay (through stop-motion photography) in the likenesses of Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republicans Charles W. Fairbanks and William Howard Taft. Finally an animated bust of Roosevelt appears. Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Comedy | Short

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6 May 1908 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Pesadelo do Escultor  »

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1.33 : 1
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When the sculptor is put in jail, the lock of the gate is on the right side. In the next shot the gate is seen from the inside of the prison cell, but the lock is still on the right side, although you see the gate from the other side. See more »

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Some Amusing Visual Effects, Otherwise Too Unrefined
29 September 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Some amusing visual effects make this otherwise somewhat unrefined feature watchable. The story concerns a sculptor who, weary of political and personal wrangling, has a nightmare in which everything comes together. The visual effects are amusing for their look at contemporary attitudes towards a few of the politicians of the era, some of whom are still remembered by those familiar with history. The rest of it does not come across so well, although there was probably enough material to make a somewhat better film.

It can be interesting to look at the ways that various camera tricks were used in the early years of cinema. Just looking at some of the Biograph shorts from the first decade of the 20th century, you can find experimentation with several kinds of visual tricks and with various ways of inserting them into a movie. Here in "The Sculptor's Nightmare", the camera effects are easily the best part of the film, and they are done reasonably well. The rest of the film was done in a seemingly haphazard manner that suggests that the visual effects were the only purpose for making the movie.

In some other features in the same era, the special visual effects are worked into a story more naturally. For example, "The Tired Tailor's Dream", from the previous year, is similar to this one in some respects, but it has a somewhat more carefully-developed story, and one that also more smoothly leads into the special effects. In that particular picture, the visual tricks are also done exceptionally well for the era.

In still other features, like "Mr. Hurry-Up" (also of the previous year), the camera tricks are really just a tack-on to a story that is only thinly related to them, and in that particular feature, although they work all right, they are rather goofy and do not always look smooth. You can see parallels to all of these in various films of the past decade, especially with special visual effects having become so faddish in recent years.

In itself, "The Sculptor's Nightmare" is perhaps about average for its time.

The visuals work well enough, but aside from that and the brief look at the political figures of the era, most of it is rather undistinguished. It does have a couple of other funny moments, but much of it is action for action's sake, and with a more refined technique it might have worked a little better.


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