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Footpads (1895)
 

BFI

Main image of Footpads (1895)
 
35mm, black and white, silent, 47 feet
 
Production CompanyPaul's Animatograph Works
ProducerR.W. Paul
PhotographyBirt Acres

A man is robbed in London, and a policeman fruitlessly tries to help him.

Show full synopsis

This atmospheric one-shot vignette is chiefly of interest for its imaginative approach to background d├ęcor. Although the action is clearly staged against a painted backdrop (the water doesn't move, the advertisements are far cruder than they'd be in reality, not least because they lack recognisable logos), some effort has been made towards establishing a sense of realism, something highly unusual for a studio-shot film of the time.

This is best illustrated by the advertising sign in the top left-hand corner of the frame, which appears to have been created by moving a piece of white card behind pre-cut holes (representing light bulbs), a primitive but surprisingly effective device given that the audience would have been primarily interested in the foreground action.

Although Paul's Animatograph Works established its reputation through actuality shorts, films like Footpads show a burgeoning interest not only in fictional subjects but also special effects. This would find its full flowering over the next decade in R.W. Paul's films with the illusionist W.R. Booth.

Michael Brooke

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'R.W. Paul: The Collected Films 1895-1908', with music by Stephen Horne and optional commentary by Ian Christie.

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Video Clips
Complete film (0:24)
GALLERY / SCRIPTS / AUDIO
SEE ALSO
Robbery (1897)
Wayfarer Compelled to Disrobe Partially, A (1897)
Paul, R.W. (1869-1943)