The Magic Box (1951)

Approved   |    |  Biography, Drama


The Magic Box (1951) Poster

A chronicle of the life of William Friese-Greene, a British inventor and early pioneer in cinema.


7.1/10
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24 April 2005 | dbdumonteil
7
| Wonderful Robert Donat!
A first-class actor ,playing a character from his youth to an old man,with the same talent:he is as convincing as the mischievous boy who takes photographs unbeknown to his boss as the old man who tries to save the seventh art from the moneychangers in the Temple . The film has an unusually inventive construction:it is roughly made of two flashbacks ,but the first one takes place after the second one."The magic box" tells the story of a pioneer of the cinema who died in dire straits ("that's the price for a seat for pictures" )His destiny resembles that of Georges Méliès who ended his life selling candies in a railway station and who never complained about his fate.Geniuses often die unnoticed.The cinematography is splendid with tasteful colors ,the dialog does not forget humor (Donat:"Enjoy yourselves!Schell:"We're going to the church!!"),and there are very powerful scenes:the concert where Schell sings a moving solo "Where is he?I know not!I know not!";an ecstatic Donat showing his film to a constable .The cast is incredibly various and includes such luminaries as Laurence Olivier,Margaret Rutherford,Peter Ustinov,Stanley Holloway and more ,all in supporting parts or even often cameos.

How prophetic the pioneer's last words were!

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