This film is part of Free

The House That Jack Built

All's well that ends well - which is exactly what happens when movie magic undoes a boy's wanton vandalism

Comedy 1900 1 mins Silent


A simple special effect resolves a children's quarrel. What little girl wouldn't be put out to see her house, lovingly constructed from building blocks, destroyed by a mischievous boy's hand? But when the film is played backwards, it looks as if the little boy is conjuring the house out of rubble. Peace restored... until he tries it again. By 1900, the audience would probably have seen this trick before - so perhaps the reversal represents the little girl's wish that real life was as fun as the movies?

The director of this film, George Albert Smith, first became well-known on the stage doing a hypnotism act, before opening a pleasure garden in Hove where he put on magic lantern shows. He 1896 he enthusiastically embraced the new medium of cinema and became one of Britain's first filmmakers, part of the what's been called the 'Brighton School'. This film demonstrates his flair as a showman, and is remarkably self-conscious about its own technique, heralding the special effect with the card 'wReversed'.