Saturday, 7 June 2014

Eadweard Muybridge

A fantastic documentary on one of the key people in the history of cinema. A portrait of the pioneering photographer, forefather of cinema, showman and murderer Eadweard Muybridge. Born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Muybridge did his most famous work in California, where his experiments in early cinema, and the public projection of his images, using a machine he invented, astounded audiences worldwide.
     Learn all about the life and work of this eccentric, name changing, English photographer who once killed his cheating wife’s lover—and got acquitted. Born Edward James Muggeridge, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1855, a time when the country was in the process of being built from the ground up. The Old West was a prime place for an adventurous young man who set out to make a name for himself. And indeed he did.



1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

This is a 57 minute movie about the invention of movies.

Edward Muggeridge, whose favourite pseudonym was Professor Eadweard Muybridge, became a successful photographer. When the wilderness was fashionable he would cut down trees, even be lowered on ropes, to get his superb photographs, which were afterwards artistically treated for maximum effect. He was a chemist, an artist, with the body of an athlete.

He met Stanford who saw horses as machines and wanted to know how they worked. After initial failure he claimed to have produced blurred images of galloping or trotting horses to show that all 4 hooves were off the ground at the same time during one part of their gait. For this he had had to invent a shutter.

He met his wife Flora when she was 19 and married, paid for her divorce and married her himself. They had a baby and he discovered she had nicknamed the baby after a male friend, Captain Harry Larkyns, paid for the captain’s washing and cavorted with him half naked. The captain was 80 miles away. Muybridge caught a ferry, made the 2 hour journey by slow boat to the train, and reached Calistoga by nightfall. A stableboy took him to Yellow Jacket Ranch where the captain was staying, on a one hour fast drive. During that time he fired his pistol, practising.

The captain answered the door, Muybridge said “My name is Muybridge. I have a message for you from my wife.” He shot him in the chest. The captain staggered away and died under a tree. The captain had been playing cards with women and Eadweard said to them, “I am sorry this little trouble occurred in your presence.”

In jail for four months pending trial, Eadweard’s hair turned white. He said to a reporter, “All right minded people would justify my action.” A jury of husbands decided he was not guilty and not mad, the last time in the state a man has been acquitted of a murder he admitted to. He said he had made “a justifiable defence of my marital rights” but he never wanted to see Flora again.

Flora died 9 months after the murder and the baby was placed in an orphanage.

Muybridge went back to creating better images of horses moving for Stanford. His greatest invention is said to be the development of a sequence of images to show motion. Because the public could not believe his images of animals moving, which were different from traditional depictions, he invented a zoopraxiscope to prove his images were accurate, even though he had to doctor the images to make them realistic.

Purists have said this was not true cinema, as the moving pictures were created using different cameras in a line, not one camera. However audiences said they felt the images on the screen had come to life. For the first time, groups of people saw projected images made from photographs. This very first motion picture projector was the foundation of cinema. Muybridge showed these all over the world, preparing the public psyche for the moving image.

As audiences became more sophisticated, Muybridge created more interesting narratives for them. One interviewee says Muybridge went straight from stop motion sequences to animation, bypassing cinematography altogether!

When Edison took credit for inventing cinematography, Muybridge argued the claim but was not given credit for his achievements because he was a showman and not a scientist. Also possibly because he was a murderer and took artistic licence with his images and other facts about his life.

Important life lessons here, thanks, Henry.