Earliest science films as pop entertainment

In 1903, London's Alhambra Theatre introduced a new kind of opening act on its evening program of ballet, opera, and magic: Cheese Mites, a scientific film of the organisms as viewed through a microscope. New Scientist has a wonderful feature on the earliest science films, including video of some of these blockbusters. From New Scientist:
 Data Images Ns Cms Mg19826581.900 Mg19826581.900-1 250 "The popularity of early films had as much to do with their novelty as with their subjects," says (Tim Boon, curator of Films of Fact, a new exhibition at London's Science Museum.) "People shuddered at monsters and took mock fright at locomotives apparently hurtling towards them. When the cheese mites appeared on screen the audience was expected to recoil in terror." They did. After fear, there was awe. When The Frog, His Webbed Foot, And the Circulation of his Blood appeared on screen everyone marvelled at the blood "rushing through its artery like water in a millstream". Even the sight of protoplasm streaming around the cells of a piece of pondweed seemed magical. Then for an edge-of-the-seat thrill there was The Fresh Water Hydra, whose much magnified tentacles writhed towards the audience like snakes.
Link (Thanks, Will Knight!)

3

  1. It says something about how jaded we’ve become that nowadays these things would be met with a raised eyebrow or yawn.

    Although I would much prefer them to the current onslaught of Coke adverts we are subjected to pre-movie.

  2. @Talia (#1), I totally agree!! It would be terrific to have these looped at the theater.

  3. I’d rather watch an hour of those than the Transformers movie. On a side note, damn you Michael Bay for messing with my childhood! On a vaguely related side note, same to you George Lucas!

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