Disturbing And Creepy Early Cinema Vintage Clips

Quick announcement: Bill and I are having a holiday at home, so after this post I shall see you in two weeks’ time.

Before the motion picture industry solidified in the 20s, The tens and 1890s were a period of gleeful experimentation, much like the advancement of YouTube from dramatic gophers to defined communities and vloggers.

From the cinéma vérité of the Lumière Brothers, the fantastical whimsy of Georges Méliès, the glamour and fun of Alice Guy-Blaché  and the innovation of the world’s first animators, everyone had something they wanted to test. Vaudeville stars of the Belle Epoque and big events were a natural draw, but sometimes events don’t go according to plan, vaudeville acts seem alien to modern eyes and other things… are just odd.

The Balancing Bluebottle/The Acrobatic Fly (F. Percy Smith, 1910)

I honestly felt sick after watching this. It’s fascinating though and I couldn’t look away. But…yeah I still felt sick.

A fly is glued to a matchstick by the wings, it’s strength tested by placing objects onto it’s flailing legs, one of the objects being a dead fly. Yep, it spins around the corpse of it’s brethren on frantic arthropodic feet. You know that shudder Bart does in the Simpsons…

Fish (Bert Williams, 1916)

This next one isn’t creepy so much as sad. Bert Williams wrote and directed two films, unheard of for a person of colour back then. However this two reeler is very light on humour and audiences had a hard time accepting him, as a 42 year old man, playing a boy. Added to the mix are parents played by white people in black face with incredibly poor comic timing and pathos that leaves the viewer depressed.

Bert was never able to reach his full ambition, stuck as he was in ‘black’ roles often in blackface. Friend and fellow vaudevillian WC Fields said “Bert Williams was the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

On stage and in his other short he was a more subtle comedian. After the disappointment of Fish he returned to live performances.

Death jump from the Eiffel Tower, 1912

On the 4th February, 1912, Franz Reichelt was scheduled to test his homemade parachute by jumping from a great height. Nobody in the watching crowd or French and British media thought to tell him it was a bad idea and off he went, falling from the tower to his unfortunate death.

The Dancing Pig (1907)

The internet is quite familiar with a small section of this vaudeville performance, namely the titular pig gurning grotesquely at the end. The rest is pretty darn odd too, involving public humiliation and torment. All in good fun though.

The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladislaw Starewicz, 1912)

Perhaps it’s my phobia of dead bugs (live ones I’m fine with though, no idea why) that leads me to find this film so shudder inducing. It’s a shame because this satire by the Polish, Russian and French stop motion animator is really incredible.

The cast of deceased insects perform an operatic melodrama of betrayed love and revenge in a mischievous swipe at popular theatre.

Monkeyshines 1, 2 and 3 (Thomas Edison, 1889 – 1890)

These ghosts from the past were captured during Edison’s first attempts to record image on film.

The Consequences of Feminism (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906)

Either this film is meant to show the absurdity of men who protested against the suffragette movement or it’s an indictment of what could happen if allowed to continue. Seeing as Alice was a filmmaker herself I’d prefer to believe the former, but we just don’t know.

The Inferno ( Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe de Liguoro, 1911)

This ambitious project was one of the first feature length films ever made (the first being The Kelly Gang, 1906). It’s packed with disturbing imagery from cannibalism to tortured souls and remains hauntingly fascinating to this day.

Short Films, Art And Writing By Women: The Fifth Sense, In Partnership With Chanel And ID

Bonjour my little balls of bellybutton fluff that are quite cute really so you leave them where they are. I’m madly getting everything ready for my reading in Brighton this weekend (for the Fringe Festival) so expect more on that next week.

In the meantime here are some short films, some on writing, some on art, some just creative, from a video, article and exhibition project called The Fifth Sense between Chanel (yes, the perfume/designers) and iD. Vice has more info.

I like Jellywolf because it gives you a really good insight into my life around age 19-24: lots of luminous clothes and clubs and a world not quite set in reality.

Here’s the director, Alma Har’el, talking about making films.

Photographer Harley Weir discusses her photography and film work.

Her final project became portraits of five different artistic women. The first is poet Zariya Allen.

Next is dancer Manthe Ribane.

Then artist Christine Sun Kim.

Then photographer Momo Okabe

Lastly actress Oulaya Amamra.

Finally, here is a video of the mirror sculpture exhibition by Es Devlin. See you next week!


We Are Turning Ourselves Into Cartoons – A Lament Of Society

I wasn’t sure whether to say anything about this, not because I thought many people would read it but, and I’m being completely honest, I’m afraid of upsetting anyone. I lie awake panicking if I think an email I sent sounded a little harsh. However I decided to write this because I’m a bit worried about aspects of Western civilisation and I wanted to purge my thoughts to see if I felt any better afterwards.

You see, I feel like we’re turning each other – and ourselves – into cartoons. Republicans are racist hicks, feminists are screeching harpies, Muslims want to bomb everyone and liberals want to help them, and it’s not always those on the other side projecting – sometimes we take little things too far, all of us. We aren’t meaning to, we get stuff wrong (or not, it’s subjective, I don’t have all the answers), but when the entire world is arguing with each other defences rise and we’re less likely to see rational points of view. Don’t get me wrong, I know history, people have always done this to opposing groups, but I feel like we’re capable of so much more right now and we should be trying to get there.

Maybe, instead of characterising everyone, we should take a step back. You might disagree with a certain person over one thing, but might they be right about another? When you don’t like the way one group is behaving, does that mean we should do the same? I try to think of things on a scale of reasonability (is that a word? It is now). Like Eddie Izzard’s fashion circle of ‘looking cool,’ where one side is uncool and gradually increases into coolness until they once more ‘look like a dickhead,’ we’ve just got to watch how far we ramp things up.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the world does need sorting out, so it’s absolutely necessary to look into issues such as how people of colour can be targeted by police. We can also be more aware of how we treat people of other races and learn as we go. But when it swings back round to claiming rich white people have no problems at all, that’s characterising again. Everyone has problems. Sure, they’re problems some of us might be jealous of (I am definitely not rich), but they may have come from an abusive family for example.

Likewise, you might truly have pride in your police force and see only good men and women trying to do their job, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But is it also possible that those good people might struggle against outdated institutional problems? And in fact, like any group of people, there are negative and positive influences, and some downright unpleasant? The head of the Met said recently that the police were definitely more likely to stop a young black man than a white man, so we have a way to go.

Likewise, I believe in the basic message of feminism. I believe we have had a struggle to be heard and are still ironing out some issues in the West. I faced difficult circumstances at my own part time job recently and was afraid to rock the boat by speaking out, so I would never say that women don’t face certain issues. However we shouldn’t characterise an entire gender just because we feel it was done to us.

We need to bear in mind how different we all are and stop lumping everyone who meets certain criteria into certain categories. It’s human nature to simplify but it’s holding us back. It’s too easy to have a fixed set of behaviour rules in our heads and apply them to everyone, but maybe instead of telling people what they should be doing we should try calming down and listening. Everyone’s a stereotype until you get to know them, and sometimes they turn out not to be monsters after all.

Below is a TED talk by a former member of the Westboro baptist church. I feel she makes some really important points and it’s time to listen.