A Trick of the Light

Friday, September 18 - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Digital projection

“A tribute to forgotten pioneers of the moving image, A TRICK OF THE LIGHT is a sweetly compelling homage to the dawn of cinema made in the style of the earliest screen images… The Skladanowsky Brothers the subject of the piece were variety artists in turn-of-the-century Germany. In addition to acrobatics and juggling, their act included shadow-play effects.

“With no formal training, Max (Udo Kier), the eldest, devised a method of filming and projecting the images of jugglers, dancers, boxers and the like. They presented a show of eight film loops at Berlin’s Wintergarten on Nov. 1, 1895 six weeks before the more famous Lumiere freres’ exhibition in Paris.

“Director Wim Wenders captained TRICK in his role as professor at the Munich film school. Beginning with a 20-minute vignette, Wenders and his students expanded on the pic over two years. The idea was to present the story in a way that visually recalls those early films. To that end, pic was shot at 18 fps using a vintage, m.o.s. hand-crank camera. In post-production, composer Laurent Petigand used a silent-film organ to record the score… The visual style and storytelling have a wry, slapstick quality, and pic conveys enormous affection for the three brothers and Max’s eldest daughter, Lucie. Though eschewing direct sound, pic underscores its images with voiceover by Max and his young daughter.

“While the film’s events essentially keep to the facts, the tone is whimsical. Max appears to stumble onto success by dint of persistence and despite the presence of industrial spies. (At pic’s premiere in L.A., the film was preceded by a presentation of the seven remaining loops from the Skladanowskys’ original show.) But Max soon realized that the Lumieres’ process was far superior, and his was doomed to obscurity.” – Variety

Part of the retrospective “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road”

  • Country Germany
  • Language In German with English subtitles
  • Rating NR
  • Running Time 79 minutes
  • Director Wim Wenders