Although almost completely forgotten today, George A. Smith was quite possibly the key individual for the development of modern film grammar. This title is usually reserved for D.W. Griffith, but most of the grammar of cutting and camera placement were developed by Mr. Smith -- Griffith regularized the grammar, a major point, and made some brilliant films. However, Mr. Smith had largely left such issues behind by that point, being more interested in developing Kinemacolor, probably the first successful natural movie film color system. Then along came Dr. Kalmus with Technicolor, and there is something else that Smith isn't remembered for. Ay wheel.
As for this short subject, it is a racy one for 1897, showing a couple sparking, when along comes a man with an X-Ray machine. One zap and suddenly we are looking at a couple of intertwined skeletons and umbrella ribs.
For 1897 this is moderately advanced, even though Melies was doing such things regularly. And the camera cut that produces the effect is not intended as a grammatical punctuation, but more on the order of a scientific magic trick. It wouldn't be until the following year that we would see a clearly developing film grammar out of Mr. Smith....
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