Film ID:
NEFA 10502

THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM

1935

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Description

A sunbather falls asleep in this silent comedy short and wakes up to discover a ghostly double has come to life to taunt him. Produced by Middlesbrough amateur filmmaker Tom H. Brown, this is an example of a ‘trick’ film where simple camera effects are used to create the impossible on screen. The film was intended to illustrate the effect of too much sun, namely dehydration and delirium.Tom Brown plays both characters in the melodramatic acting style of early silent cinema.

Title: Things Are Not What They Seem. Longfellow.

Credits:
Devised & Produced by T.H. Brown.
Assisted by A.T. Riley

Title: An attempt to portray the effect of Sunstroke upon the Central Nervous System.

Credit: Sole actor - T.H. Brown

A man is asleep in a deckchair with an empty glass beside him. He is oblivious when his double materialises from his own sleeping figure and goes to sit in the deckchair opposite. A double exposure in camera produces this magical appearance. The double whistles. A split-screen technique using mattes now allows the one actor to appear simultaneously, as if cloned, and the two characters interact with each other within the single frame.

Later, the split screen filming technique produces disappearances through an invisible seam in the centre of the frame that marks the transition from ‘real world’ to the alternate time and space of the double.

The double wipes his brow in the heat. The man wakes up and is baffled to see his double sitting next to him. The double holds up a bottle, unscrews it and takes a swig. The bottle then vanishes from his hand. A simple stop motion effect produces this disappearance. Back in the ‘real’ world, the man is puzzled and bemused. The double rises from his deckchair, waves goodbye, and vanishes as he strolls towards centre frame. The man cringes and shields his face in disbelief. He gets up and looks across at the empty deckchair. As he looks into the space where his double had been, his head vanishes. He leaps back in shock. He walks through the magical divide and disappears.

Next, his head emerges without a body and he looks around his own ‘real’ space. He leaps back through. He sticks his hand into the double’s space and pulls out a drinks can. He pushes it back in horror. Now he collapses into his deckchair and promptly falls asleep. He wakes up, believes he has been dreaming, and reaches down to his empty glass and turns it over. Gravity is reversed. Liquid runs back up into the glass. Reverse motion, created by running the film backwards in the camera, transforms an empty glass into a full one. The man takes a drink. Close-up as he shakes his head in disbelief.

Title: Moral - Don’t overdo sunbathing.

End title: The End.