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There are lots of visual effects and camera tricks in this short
feature about "Magic Bricks", and most of them work well. Evaluated
solely in terms of technique, it's quite good. The material itself,
though, is rather bland, with only a couple of really interesting
The movie shows two conjurers performing an act together, using boxes, blocks, and other similar props. Except for one or two of the tricks later in the show, most of their tricks are not especially interesting in themselves, and the main reason to watch this film is to see how the camera was used to create illusions that would otherwise have been difficult or impossible to make.
Most of the visual effects work well, and they give the appearance of having been set up and filmed with care. The film was also hand-tinted in color, although much of the color has now faded. The technical and production end are pretty good, and they make it watchable in spite of the somewhat drab nature of the material itself.
No doubt this film was intended to wow early 20th century audiences
with its conjuring tricks but, of course these are not so impressive
today. After all, to show a magician's 'tricks' through the use of
stop-motion photography defeats the object really: the magic's being
performed behind the camera here rather than in front of it.
What I liked about the film was the two Chinese assistants who magically appear from the conjurer's magic box, both grinning inanely with their index fingers pointing skywards. It was probably a racial stereotype back then, but it made me laugh. Check them out holding a smiley, pointy-fingers-in-the-air conversation in the background while the magician goes about his business. Hilarious.
This film is very entertaining, and if I had not already seen "Le Thaumaturge Chinois" by Georges Méliès, I would have no doubt scored it higher. That's because "Le Thaumaturge Chinois" was in many ways the exact same film but made several years earlier! It was not very uncommon in the early days of cinema for studios to plagiarize the work of their competitors. Today, they would have no doubt been sued for this, but in the "wild and crazy" days of early cinema, it was not very unusual. However, I also have to admit that Magic Bricks perhaps a little better AND it also is totally hand-colored! Nice stuff, but hardly original!
Two magicians make people appear and disappear in front of our very
eyes in this colourful French short film. Modern audiences will not be
amazed at all by the appearing and disappearing characters but at the
time I can imagine it was met with "how did they do that" gasps.
However watching it now is still a wonderful experience because this
was almost exactly a hundred years ago when this sort of thing was new
and being thought up as these films were made. New ideas were being
taken and expanded upon and used in different ways.
This film simply gives the producers a structure to play within. There is some humour but really this is all about the visual effects and with the colours on top of that it makes it interesting to watch when you have a feel for what the historical context you are watching it within.
When it comes to color-stenciling, the Spanish filmmaker Segundo de
Chomon knew it all. I do not know him as well as Georges Melies, but
when it came to visual effects, Chomon was good at competing with his
rival. Unfortunately I don't have many of his films on DVD, it's sad
that in Kino's wonderful cinema set they didn't include more of his
films because there are only two, this being one of them. However, what
this film displays is very good. Not only do we get a great coloring
job but also we get some great visuals.
First, a Chinese conjurer and his assistant appear in a strange kind of box and make a woman appear in the box. They make her disappear. The conjurers then stack some bricks on a table and knock them off. Then one of the conjurers holds up a piece of paper and the bricks magically move up in front of it. Then pictures appear on the bricks.
Segundo de Chomon was a genius. He deserves as much appreciation as Melies.
This film has special effects which for it's time are very impressive. Some if it is easily explainable with the scenes played backwards but the overlay of moving images on an object on film is surprisingly well done given that this film was made more than 94 years ago.
this movie is very familiar to george melies movie tchin chao the chinese conjurer from 1904 but melies worked with living animals and pathe did not he uses some other techniques,i see it as a remake of melies work.
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