The First Circus (film #7 on Origins of American Animation). [Category: Hollywood]

This is actually two short vignettes of early-20s silhouette animation. In the first one, two chimps discover a bottle of liquor. Just as it threatens to turn into a bizarre combination of The Gods Must Be Crazy and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the alpha male shows up and steals it from them. Typical. The second vignette features a caveman’s version of a circus, the highlight being a high-wire act involving a brontosaurus and a snake. These vignettes are mildly charming and fun to watch. This film is notable for being the first downloaded silent film I’ve run across that includes a musical soundtrack. As usual for the films on the American Memory sites, this film is very well-preserved and beautifully digitized, looking just as good on my tv screen as on a computer screen.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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