The Hand of the Artist (1907)

Article 4199 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-8-2013
Directed by Walter R. Booth
Cast unknown
Country: UK
What it is: Trick short

Photographs come to life after having been manipulated by a pair of hands.

I found two videos for this short on YouTube; one was two minutes long, and the other was only one minute. The two minute video seems to consist of two shorts, both of which have the title THE HAND OF THE ARTIST; in one, an artist draws a photograph-quality picture of two characters who then come to life and interact. In the other, the hands tear in half a photograph of two people so that each person is in a separate half of the tear; he then crumples them and places them on a board where they come to life as their respective people and perform a cake-walk. The second video included only the second of these shorts.

Now according to IMDB, the plot description is “An artist draws a coster(sic) couple who come to life and dance a cakewalk.” Though I have no idea what the word “coster” means in this context (if it’s a misspelling, I have no idea what the word is supposed to be), I can’t help but notice that the description doesn’t quite match either of these two shorts individually; in the first, there’s no cakewalk, and in the second, there’s no drawing of the couple. The description does, however, work for both shorts taken together, so maybe it is a single short.

Another odd detail about the IMDB listing is that it is described in the trivia section as the “first British animated cartoon”. If so, then I’m wondering just where the “animation” is. When the pictures come to life, it’s obviously live action footage we’re seeing and not animation. The building of the picture in the first short might qualify, though it looks more like an interesting special effect than animation per se. On its own terms, it’s fairly entertaining to watch; it just seems to raise a few questions in the watching of it.

ADDENDUM: Since I wrote this, a fact came up that clarifies things. It appears the two-minute version I saw was really two clips from the whole short, which runs closer to six minutes. This explains the plot description questions I had, as well as making it quite possible that I never saw the part of the short that was animated.


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