This film is part of Free

The Sorcerer's Scissors

This trick film of magical transitions features some early animated flourishes that, for their time, were clearly at the cutting-edge

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1907 4 mins


This stunning example of Edwardian cut-and-paste creativity, powered by magical scissors and Hunt’s Fish Glue, is part of the origin story of British animation. Former stage magician and special effects pioneer Walter Booth was one of the pioneers in adding stop-motion – filming frame by frame to make static objects and still images appear to move – to the filmmaker’s armoury.

Here the technique is mostly used as a special effects gimmick, enabling nifty and almost surrealist transitions such as rebuilding a female figure that has been smashed with a hammer. But as the scissors dance and form the face of the sorcerer at the end of the film we get a glimpse of animation’s other future; bringing new kinds of characters to life and opening up different directions for cinema storytelling.