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March of the Movies More at IMDbPro »The Film Parade (original title)

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Summary Of Early Films

5/10
Author: swagner2001 from New York, NY
22 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie plays like an hour long newsreel.

The first section of the film, documents the development of motion pictures. Now, according to Blackman, it was the Ancient Egyptians who first came up with the idea of motion pictures. On each pillar in a temple, there was a carved picture of Isis. Each picture differing slightly from the next. So, if one raced by these pillars in a chariot, there would be a zoetrope effect of a moving picture.

Blackton later covers the discovery of the camera obscura, Eastman's development of film, etc. Each section is dramatized in pantomime, as a loud news announcer explains what we're seeing.

The second section of the film consists of obscure historic footage, i.e. the inauguration of President McKinley, Czar Nicholas I getting into a carriage with his family. Blackton then uses this to segue into showing his own fictional films made during this period.

The narration constantly pokes fun of what's on the screen. An actor's name will be mentioned, followed by "you'll have to ask your father about him." "Is Mary really angry? No! That steam is from an exhaust pipe. Our studio was outside - on the roof of a building." "This is a very expensive set. We even have a piano painted on the wall." An actor sits near the wall, and pretends to play the keys painted on the flat upright wall.

It's intriguing to hear a first-person account from someone who made films at the dawn of the 20th Century. Blackton was acquainted with Edison and FILM PARADE includes footage of them meeting. (Unfortunately, we're not listening to an old man discussing his past. We are hearing the voice of a loud narrator reading commentary written by Blackton.)

The third section of the film includes a sort of silent movie retrospective. Reminds one of the sort of things they show every year at the Oscars. Clips after clip of different movies - with names of the stars on the bottom of the screen, with sentimental music playing. A few of those shown were already deceased by the time this film was made (1933).

It ends with these strange animated illustrations of radio towers. Making a weird claim that every sound ever made can be located and tracked, one day, by beams from large radio towers. "Perhaps we will even be able to hear the voice of Abraham Lincoln." It ends with a memoriam to Thomas Alva Edison.

Edison died in October 1931. Maybe that was the catalyst for this odd meandering, reminiscent film?

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