Rip Meeting the Dwarf (1896)
Article 5633 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by William K. L. Dickson
Featuring Joseph Jefferson
What it is: The second episode of the first serial
Rip Van Winkle meets a dwarf.
First, here’s a little background. In 1896, director William K. L. Dickson made a series of eight films that told the story of Rip Van Winkle. The reason he split the story into eight films was simple; at this time in history, you simply couldn’t make a movie longer than a minute or so, and telling the whole story in one go would have been (for that era) epic. The eight movies would in 1903 be collected together into a single movie called RIP VAN WINKLE. I’ve already covered that film, but since IMDB also has a separate listing for all eight early films, and some of the segments have been classified as fantasy on that site, I have an excuse to review them separately. However, only three of the eight films have been classified as such, so those are the only ones I’ll be covering.
That being said, there’s not a lot to be said for any one of these segments individually, largely because so little happens. This segment plays out just as the title describes; Rip meets a dwarf. Taken on its own, the dwarf’s existence is the sole fantastic content, and that’s only if we use the fantasy definition of a dwarf rather than the real-life definition of meeting someone like Billy Barty or Angelo Rossitto. Any further critical evaluation is rather pointless.