MAGNETIC UMBRELLA (1911)
aka Le parapluie magnetique
Article 4706 by Dave Sindelar
What it is: Comic trick short
A scientist creates a potion that, when poured on an umbrella, causes it to influence objects and people when it is opened. A child runs off with the umbrella to test it.
This movie was just recently consigned to my “ones that got away” list, but almost immediately someone was able to supply me with a copy. When I first entered it on that list, I found myself wondering why anyone would want to make an umbrella magnetic. After having seen the short, I know the answer; since an umbrella has two states (closed and open), it gave the object a metaphorical “on/off” switch. Now my question is why the word “magnetic” is used at all. Magnetism implies that it will attract objects to it; when the umbrella is “on” here, it instead makes all surrounding objects and people move around wildly at an exaggerated pace, which, while interesting to look at, is hardly magnetic. That being said, the speeded-up special effects make it fun to watch, though the story is pretty common for these types of shorts. It’s always nice to have a rarity like this show up.