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The Missing Reel Movie Review

prince rawlence christopher film

The history of the motion picture industry has always been shrouded in mystery. Take the very first filmmaker, for example. In November of 1888, Louis Aime Augustin Le Prince patented his camera, and some of the films he made in October of that year still survive. One shows the Yorkshire garden of his British father-in-law, the other records traffic crossing Leeds Bridge. The following year, Le Prince used perforated film for the first time. Why don't we remember Le Prince as well as we do Thomas Edison today? On September 16, 1890, Le Prince planned to demonstrate a brand new movie projector for the Secretary of the Paris Opera. He was last seen carrying the projector and his films as he boarded a Paris-bound train at Dijon. The inventor, his equipment, and all of his films vanished without a trace, and Le Prince became a mere footnote in film history, barely acknowledged throughout the first century of the cinema. Then writer Christopher Rawlence became intrigued by the unsolved mystery and also by the role Le Prince had played in the evolution of film. His research made both a compelling 321-page book, published by Atheneum, as well as a fine feature-length documentary. Rawlence speaks with members of the Le Prince family, reconstructs events from Le Prince's life, and does some solid investigative work to show what led up to the disappearance and why. Great viewing for neophytes AND scholars!

1990 90m/C John Hart-Dyke, Mona Bruce, Steve Shill, Alison Skilbeck, William Whymper, George Malpas, Vincent Marzello, Ron Berglas, Billy Le Prince Huettel; D: Christopher Rawlence; W: Christopher Rawlence; C: Chris Morphet; M: Francis Shaw.

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