Magic Shadows: The Story of the Origin of Motion Pictures

By Martin Quigley Jr. | Go to book overview

VI
KIRCHER'S 100th ART

Kircher's magic lantern projects pictures and the art of screen presentation is born--First screen picture show in Rome, 1646-- Kircherbook, Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae, tells the world how.

IN /THE SECOND quarter of the 17th Century the stage was set for the birth of the magic lantern, progenitor of all cinematographic projectors. The chief actor was a German, a fellow countryman of Kepler and of many other serious scientists in the light and shadow field, but it was in Italy, native land of many arts and showmen, of Leonardo da Vinci and of Porta, that he worked. The man was. Athanasius Kircher.

The age in which Kircher worked was a difficult period. The Thirty Years War ravaged Europe from 1618 to 1648 and the people suffered more than at any period down to our own. Europe politically was in chaos as after World Wars I and II. Only in literature and science were there signs of hope and promise. The eyes of many thoughtful Europeans turned away from the Old World to the new lands across the sea.

Kircher was born five years before the first permanent English settlement in the New World. But let him tell us in the words of his Latin autobiography, parts of which, it is believed, are here translated into English for the first time: "At the third hour after midnight on the second of May in the year 1602, I was brought into the common air of disaster at Geysa, a town which is a three hours' journey from Fulda." (Not far from the modern Frankfurt-

-48-

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Magic Shadows: The Story of the Origin of Motion Pictures
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations 6
  • Foreword 7
  • Introduction 9
  • I It Started with "A" 13
  • II Friar Bacon's Magic 24
  • III Da Vinci's Camera 29
  • IV Porta, First Screen Showman 36
  • V Kepler and the Stars 43
  • VI Kircher's 100th Art 48
  • VII Popularizing Kircher's Projector 62
  • VIII Musschenbroek and Motion 70
  • IX Phantasmagoria 75
  • X Dr. Paris' Toy 80
  • XI Plateau Creates Motion Pictures 85
  • XII The Baron's Projector 98
  • XIII The Langenheims of Philadelphia 106
  • XIV Marey and Movement 115
  • XV Edison's Peep-Show 130
  • XVI First Steps 139
  • XVII World Premieres 149
  • Appendix I MAGIC SHADOWS A Descriptive Chronology 163
  • Appendix II BIBLIOGRAPHY and Acknowledgements 177
  • Index 185
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