When Things Were New

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Cinema, Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life)

I was speaking about the first films made by Lumiere brothers, sitting in the train, to my friend Rajesh. I told him about the incidence where the people sitting in theatre to watch ‘wonder of the century’ the cinematographe, ran out while watching one of the first films ‘arrival of the train’ thinking that it was a real train and would run over them in a few seconds. Rajesh laughed, like I did many years ago when I heard about it for the first time. The innocence of the mind is what fascinated me and it’s the same that fascinated Rajesh. Today it might not be a fearful thing to see a train arrive on the screen but when people dint know about cinema they thought it to be a real train.

Listening to this Rajesh narrated a similar story. It seems when the British laid down tracks to Jagadalpur in Orissa and train started running on them, the people of the village ran away from the village looking at the train and listening to its sound. And it seems many animals, not knowing that train might run over them, stood on the track ready to fight the arriving train assuming it to be some unknown animal, lost their lives.

Now, I had one more story to tell Rajesh, which I had read recently in Erik Barnouw’s book ‘The Magic and The Cinema’. Erik in his book speaks about how people like Robertson and Paul de Philpstahl used the magic lantern (something like a projector) of which common man dint known those days in their magic shows to project the photos of warriors who had given up their lives in French Revolution and thus making the audience feel that they had brought back the dead alive for a moment through their magical powers. This wouldn’t work today for everyone knows of projector and projection but when the concept of projector and projection was new and when people did not know of it, it did happen. Today we laugh about all these… then it scared people.

08 September 2008

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