Moving pictures did not burst onto the screen with Auguste and Louis Lumière’s train and the flickering cinematograph in 1895. For more than 200 years, from roughly 1659, audiences had already marveled at the “magic lantern,” the direct ancestor of the movies, and the world’s other premier screen experience. Using authentic texts, original slides, historical know-how and on-the-spot showmanship, lanternists David Francis and Joss Marsh will re-create live Victorian-era holiday entertainment in two programs for children and adults. Celebrating the influence of Charles Dickens, MoMA presents a lantern-slide telling of A Christmas Carol, along with the lantern-inspired films Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost (R. W. Paul, 1901), Buy Your Own Cherries (R. W. Paul, 1904), and Fire! (James Williamson, 1901). Performances will also include mechanical and “dissolving” views of Gibraltar, Paris, Aladdin’s adventures, and the heroic Fireman’s Wedding, along with audience sing-alongs to period temperance songs.

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

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