The sound has been found in the form of an old Edisonian recording cylinder. The cylinder was repaired, then Walter Murch ACE MPSE synced the film to the correct music in (I believe) 2002. Total running time is approximately 17 seconds.
In a fenced back yard with the neighboring house visible in the distance, a stationary camera films Juan Caicedo in profile on a rope. Holding one pole while another bounces, Juan does several back flips and a few steps walking. He lands each flip straddling the rope then springs onto his feet for the next trick. Written by
One of the 50 films in the 4-disk boxed DVD set called "Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives. This film was preserved by the Academy Film Archive, Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences. This version has an uncredited piano music score and runs 25 seconds. See more »
This short Edison feature does a good job of filming its subject, which in this case is high-wire specialist Juan Caicedo. It is one of many very early movies that, in addition to their value as historical examples in the development of cinema, have also preserved for later generations the memory of some of the era's popular performers who otherwise have long since been forgotten.
This one is notable in that it was the first of the Edison movies to be filmed outdoors, since it was felt (no doubt correctly) that filming the act in Edison's 'Black Maria' studio would not have worked as well. Therefore, you get to see Caicedo use his balancing pole to perform a number of feats of skill in a more natural setting. One interesting and (presumably) unintentional feature is that whenever the wire is straight, it is aligned with a fence rail in the background, making the wire seem temporarily invisible.
Most likely, Caicedo had to make some changes in his routine to keep all the action within the fixed camera field. But he and the Edison film crew seem to have worked together pretty well, since almost everything stays in view. Between that and the outdoor photography, this movie does a good job at what it set out to do.
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