Someone has posted this rarely seen documentary about Eadward Muybridge, the forefather to motion photography. The great American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called this one of the Top 100 American Films of all time. However, the film is rarely screened and not something you will find on DVD or on demand. Take advantage of this opportunity to indulge in a most fascinating and meditative examination of cinema’s earliest images and the personal history of man who brought still imagery to life.
One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject, Thom Andersen’s remarkable and sadly neglected hour-long documentary (1974) adroitly combines biography, history, film theory, and philosophical reflection. Muybridge’s photographic studies of animal locomotion in the 1870s were a major forerunner of movies; even more interesting are his subsequent studies of diverse people, photographed against neutral backgrounds. Andersen’s perspectives on Muybridge are multifaceted and often surprising (characteristically, the film’s opening quotation is from Mao), and he presents Muybridge’s photographic sequences in various ways to spell out the many meanings of this fascinating precinematic work. – Jonathan Rosenbaum