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The Fugitive Futurist (1924)

A habitual loser at the race-track is approached by a man who claims to be an inventor with a machine that can see into the future; but can it predict the winner of tomorrow's race? And just whom is the 'inventor' trying to escape anyway?

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A habitual loser at the race-track is approached by a man who claims to be an inventor with a machine that can see into the future; but can it predict the winner of tomorrow's race? And just whom is the 'inventor' trying to escape anyway?

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trick photography | See All (1) »

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Comedy | Short

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October 1924 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Fugitive Futurist: A Q-riosity by 'Q'  »

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Ninth release in the 'Q-Riosities by Q' series. See more »

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the camera as time capsule
8 July 2018 | by See all my reviews

Superb, witty and imaginative use of cinema trickery by one of the British (at least British by adoption) experts in the genre, Gaston Quiribet (the other at the rival Urban Trading being the US-born Walter R. Booth).

The trick film (dying as a genre in itself by this time) was permutating interestingly in several directions. It had already by this time produced the animated film and the films of prehistoric fact or fantasy, all manner of disaster films as well as contributing importantly to the development of the US comic short. Science fiction fantasy had made some early sporadic appearancs (Mélès' Voyag dans la lune in 1902, Booth's Airship Destroyer of 1908, La Police en l'an 2000 in 1910, Homunculus in 1915, the Swedish space-travel feature, Himmelskibet, in 1918, but the pace would quicken in the twenties with the German film Algol 1920, L'Uomo meccanico 1921, Aelita (this same year, The Death Ray and Paris qui Dort (1925), Metropolis (1927) and Frau in Mond and High Treason (1929).

Interfering with time had already been used in comedy (notably in Jean Durand's Onésime Horloger 1912) and would be used again by Clair in Pari qui dort but this 1924 short is the first I know of to use the idea of time-travel to present a dystopic view of the future (even if, with some inevitability, all is not quite as it appears). - Trafalgar Square flooded, the Strand up for sale or rent, The Houses of Parliament an airship terminal and Tower Bridge the site of an elaborate railway system. The weakness of the vision provided by the time-machine is that it is not really consistent but it is all quite neatly done and when the machine appears to reveal the winner of a horserace, we begin, like the man listening, to believe that perhaps.......

If after all there is no such box of illusions, what is it we are watching?


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