A man attempts to shave with a blunt razor.

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Tom Green
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A man attempts to shave with a blunt razor.

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Short | Comedy

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August 1900 (UK)  »

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The Evolution of the Close-Up
20 September 2013 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Tom Green, the well-known comic, shaves himself with a straight razor and uses some after-shave lotion.

When people discuss advances in film technique, they rarely mention George Albert Smith, but he was the man who figured out many of the techniques that later became standard film techniques. Among them he seems to have been the first to use a close-up shot and here we watch Mr. Green in a medium close-up. The effect looks minimal, given that this 90-second film is shot square on in a single take.

That might be the modern take, but given that you can see the changing expression of Mr. Green's mobile face, his concentration when wielding the razor and his pleasure on applying the lotion, it demonstrates the utility of the shot.

It would be several years before others took notice. According to stories I heard, when D.W. Griffith started to use close-ups in his movies, his employers were horrified. It's probably apocryphal, but telling.


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