ELECTRIC TRANSFORMATION (1909)
Article 4700 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Percy Stow
What it is: Trick short
A scientist demonstrates how electricity can be used to transform and redesign objects.
This title just recently was dropped from my hunt list onto my “ones that got away” list, and upon that announcement, a friend of mine posted a link to a condensed version of the short which, though not complete, was coherent and contained everything important from the short. There was enough there to merit my coverage of it. That being said, the most interesting thing about this film is the striking use of special effects. IMDB claims that the electricity is used to “melt faces”, which I thought would turn out to be a simple form of double exposure, but instead we actually do get transformations that look like melting (sometimes in reverse), and that’s certainly an effect I’ve never seen from Melies. It’s similar to the distortion effects that popped up in a couple of Abel Gance shorts, but it’s mostly like the destruction of the city in THE PHANTOM EMPIRE. It’s this striking effect that sets this one apart from many of the other silent trick shorts of the era.