Categories
Photography

Magic at The New York Historical Society

New York Historical Society

Join us for an enchanting summer of mesmerizing displays, evening programs, family activities, and free films that offer a historical perspective on the spectacle of magic and the magicians who became famous performing death-defying feats.

So many ‘Magical’ Events happening this summer at The New York Historical Society

Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection
June 15 – September 16
Travel to New York’s magical past and discover a world of treasures from the collection of Emmy Award-winning illusionist David Copperfield. Explore the careers and exploits of the legendary magicians that inspired him, see iconic objects used by Harry Houdini, and be amazed by the Death Saw from one of Copperfield’s most famous illusions!

For information on ALL of the events go here!

Tomorrow on Wed. July 18th is: The Witch of Lime Street. with screenwriter/author David Jaher.

# # # # #

 

 

Categories
Book Shelf Cinema Magic Magic Recommended Reading List Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “The Magician and the Cinema”

Inside of book jacket flap.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Erik Barnouw (Tube of Plenty et al.) tells an engaging story to introduce this scholarly lark: in high school, Barnouw catalogued magician John Mulholland‘s books on magic and, meeting him decades later, mentioned “how often, in exploring film history, I had come across names I had first met in his books. Had magicians had a larger role in the evolution of motion pictures than was generally recognized?”.  A rhetorical question, it quickly seems, as Barnouw conjures up–to the accompaniment of eerie posters and other archival troves–an era when “every new scientific invention had magic possibilities”; the magic lantern made apparitions materialize, and one after another future filmmaker experimented with optical trickery. Then came the Cinematographe (1895), and the scramble “for wealth and glory”–led by magician/impresario/master of special effects Georges Melies. Also in the running were Billy Bitzer, D. W. Griffith‘s chief cameraman-to-be; Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton, founding partners of American Vitagraph; and the great Houdini himself–who turned his celebrated stage feats into film climaxes. . . which, by camera magic, anyone could now perform. The irony, as Barnouw notes, was that the films displaced the magicians. Looking at the films themselves (thanks to another happy accident–the Paper Print collection at the Library of Congress, Barnouw’s present base), he traces the magic/ film intersection through several stages–from the first “”actuality bits”” (which people “readily accepted as magic””), through filmed magic “”beefed up by film trickery,”” to the trick film: ghosts, vanishings, metamorphoses, “”cheerful”” mayhem–the realm of severed heads and severed limbs. Plus: devices special to the film, like reversals, slow motion and accelerated motion. A few concluding words ponder–with reference to the “media”–the acceptance of illusions, now, as “something real.” A spiffy little addition to early film history, with outsize implications.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~