The X-Rays (1897) - George Albert Smith

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The X-Rays (aka. The X-Ray Fiend) is another film from George Albert Smith. Smith directed The Haunted Castle, a remake of a George Melies film, earlier that year. The X-Rays shows us a young woman that gets confronted by an adoring older man. The older man flirts and blushes. Then an X-Ray camera floats in, or is attached to some figure in black, and presumably turns the couple inside out. Then they return to normal when the camera leaves. Fin.

That is the entire short from beginning to end. It has no purpose or thought, the camera head man doesn't seem to return in this form to any other media. This was just an odd find that happened to fit rather nicely right after The Haunted Castle.

The film takes advantage of an early “camera-trick,” the jump shot. The quick cut. The Quick Cut has actors stay in place when the director says “Cut!” They have to freeze every muscle in their body. Once something on the set has been changed the director resumes filming and the actors go about their actings. Usually surprised by the result of the cut. The finished product shows an article or sometimes a person disappearing or reappearing.

This film is fun for the nostalgic factor and artistic quality. When the young couple is turned inside out they have some really cool costumes on. That is where the jump cut was used. For its time this was probably a really interesting and fun short. Kids on boardwalks all over have been pumping pennies into the Mutoscopes just to see this. I know I would have.

  • 44 Seconds Long
  • One of the first films to utilize “movie magic”