This film is part of Free

The Haunted Curiosity Shop

The strange objects in this shop are brought uncannily to life thanks to a series of early camera tricks

Fantasy 1901 2 mins


This anarchic fantasy film seems to follow no rhyme or reason, yet its construction will have been far from improvised. Each transformation, vanishing trick or apparition is achieved by in-camera editing, pausing the camera while carefully placing and replacing objects and people in the studio. Meticulous planning, props, pyrotechnics and a vivid imagination are what's required. This is a British take on a style of illusionist filmmaking pioneered by the Frenchman George Méliès.

Robert W Paul was one of Britain's earliest filmmakers, who introduced greater professionalism to early film. Paul was a successful instrument-maker by trade and became the co-inventor of the country's first moving-picture camera in 1896. He built a studio in London's Muswell Hill in 1898 and continued to make films there until around 1910, when he turned his focus back to instruments and military technology. This film was made by his company, Paul's Animatograph Works.