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Sheer Trickery (1924)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A collection of short sequences in which reality is altered using film technology. People in Piccadilly Circus go about their daily business backwards and then in fast-forward. A congregation enters a church in slow-motion and then leaves at top speed. British workmen of various occupations are shown experiencing 'that Monday morning feeling'. Bricklayers build houses at a snail's pace and farm workers leadenly shovel earth into a cart. Once the workers get 'into their stride', their actions are accelerated to an extremely fast pace.

A man sits down to eat lunch. He does this in reverse, apparently regurgitating wine and pouring it back into its bottle. He then re-constructs a banana and carefully wraps it up in its skin. The unconventional luncheon makes the man dizzy and he wanders into the street. Film effects are used to simulate his distorted perception: houses tilt in front of his eyes and a single dog becomes three overlapping images. The man decides to take a taxi home and the initially gentle journey soon speeds up. He is whizzed through the streets of London in an open taxicab, becoming progressively more unwell as the journey continues. He quits the taxi and, later that night, decides to travel by Underground instead. At first the train travels at a normal speed but it quickly accelerates and the man undergoes another unpleasantly fast journey.