Love and Science (1912)

aka Amour et science
Article 4077 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-13-2012
Director unknown
Featuring Emile Dehelly and Renee Sylvaire
Country: France
What it is: Exploration of a common science fiction theme

The betrothed of a dedicated and obsessed scientist (who is working on a telephotophone) is angry at being snubbed when she comes to visit, so she exacts a revenge when the invention is finished and he calls her.

The “telephotophone” in the description is an early version of what we would call the “videophone”, an extension of the telephone whereby you could see the person you’re talking with. What I found more interesting is that the movie deals with one of the common “mad scientist” cliches; think of all the movies you’ve seen where a scientist is so dedicated to his craft he has no time for his fiance/daughter/wife/etc. In this short, that cliche drives the plot, prompting the snubbed fiance to exact revenge by showing that she is with another man (actually, her best female friend in disguise) when the scientist tests his invention by calling her with it. Some of the plot developments are a little far-fetched, but I was nonetheless charmed by seeing the cliche given a front-and-center place in the story, which rarely happens. There are some interesting special effects as well; during the call we get a split-screen which allows us to see three scenes at once; the scientist testing his machine, the woman receiving the phone call, and the view that the scientist sees on his machine. It’s not a great short, but it’s an interesting one.

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