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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: May 2006

5 - Film and television

from Part 1 - The history
Summary

Science fiction film: the first fifty years

In the first book of film theory, written in 1915, Vachel Lindsay imagined a modern America transformed into a permanent World's Fair. Central to his poetic vision of the coming technocracy was the cinema, whose 'prophetwizards will set before the world a new group of pictures of the future' surpassing even Jules Verne, Edward Bellamy and H. G. Wells. Lindsay's peculiar rhetoric has obvious resonances with the interplay of entertainment, education and prophecy in Gernsback's model of scientifiction, but as the manifesto for a new kind of cinema it found few, if any, adherents - not least because sf cinema had been developing in a different direction since the Lumière brothers' Charcuterie méchanique (The Mechanical Butcher, 1895). A one-minute, single-scene short, it showed a pig being fed into a machine from which various cuts of pork soon emerge. Audiences might well have also seen the film projected in reverse, and one of its imitators, Dog Factory (Porter, 1904), utilized this basic technique to depict a machine that reconstituted strings of sausages into whatever breed of dog the customer required.

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The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
  • Online ISBN: 9780511998805
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521816262
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