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The Evidence of the Film (1913)

 |  Crime, Short  |  10 January 1913 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 187 users  
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A messenger boy is wrongfully accused of stealing bonds worth $20,000.

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Title: The Evidence of the Film (1913)

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Cast

Credited cast:
William Garwood ...
The Broker
Marie Eline ...
Messenger Boy
Riley Chamberlin ...
Clerk
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Florence La Badie ...
Sister of Little Boy
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Storyline

A messenger boy is wrongfully accused of stealing bonds worth $20,000.

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Plot Keywords:

filmmaking | See All (1) »

Genres:

Crime | Short

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Release Date:

10 January 1913 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Goofs

SPOILERS. When the sister discovers the footage of the crime being committed, the insert shots showing the film are of a different angle than what is actually projected later. See more »

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User Reviews

Self-referential and the Camera's POV
30 October 2007 | by See all my reviews

"The Evidence of the Film" is a conceptually interesting early self-referential short film. It involves a film-within-a-film, and it examines the nature of film as a recorder of events (in the story, a film clip becomes evidence in serving justice). There's also a glimpse of the movie-making process, as the evidence was of a crime occurring in front of a camera filming a movie, and there's a behind-the-scenes look at an editing room. As fellow commenter wmorrow59 pointed out, the discovery of "truth" (in this film, unambiguous truth) in photography in this film reminds one of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 self-reflexive classic "Blowup".

First, the crime is shown from a somewhat obscure angle from behind the characters--filmed by the invisible, unacknowledged camera, which gives us the outer film. We see the acknowledged camera's viewpoint, from a clear vantage point in front of the characters, later when it's projected as evidence. There's an obvious goof in the staging of the actors playing actors, though, as they appear right next to the main characters in the first perspective and farther off in the background in the second scene despite the two shots supposedly having happened simultaneously. Regardless, the film-within-the-film scene--the camera's POV superimposed--is great. A scene of an audience (our surrogates) watching a film dates back to Robert W. Paul's "The Countryman the Cinematograph" (1901), and D.W. Griffith made a similar scene in "Those Awful Hats" (1909), but the multiple-exposure effect in this film is especially convincing, and the emphasis on the POV of the camera is especially innovative. Interestingly (and rather contradictory to the theme of film as honest recorder), the footage shown twice on the negative within the film is from the first, unacknowledged camera's POV, rather than the film-within-the-film.

The notion of film as a recorder of events, fictional or actual, is a bit limited and narrow view of the medium, though. It's apparent the filmmakers weren't trying to explore the depths of cinema too much. I suppose they believed they were making an ordinary crime drama. Compare this to another self-referential film from 1912, "The Cameraman's Revenge" (Mest kinematograficheskogo operatora), which is also about recording "real" events and then incriminating the players with the projection of the film later. Aside from the fact that Wladyslaw Starewicz used replica insects for his film rather than people, his film also differs from "The Evidence of the Film" in that its filmic perspectives are more elaborate and it probes the medium's illusionary capabilities. Anyhow, "Evidence of the Film" is an interesting early self-referential film worth watching.


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