Merci Monsieur Robertson (1986)

Run Time - 77 min.  |   Countries - Belgium  |  
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A late 18th and 19th-century history of film and moving images is gleaned from this engaging look at Etienne Gaspard Robert. "Mr. Robertson" as he was known, ignored the French Revolution all around him and created a whole new form of entertainment that combined moving images with live actors and stage props. Skulls and other frightening objects were manipulated with mirrors and screens, enhanced with sound effects and music, and were complemented by a "magic lantern" that could call up images against a smoky "curtain." Robert's experimentation with images was brought to new heights by the animation techniques of pioneers like Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers, shown in the latter segments of this documentary.