Books and Film

Horses and the History of Film Come Alive

I must admit, I am a bit obsessed with the horse’s part in the history of film. Little pleases me more than the fact that the film industry owes its entire existence to one bet over whether or not a horse can “fly.”

In the 1870s, racehorse owner, and former governor of California, Leland Stanford, commissioned Eadweard Muybridge to prove whether a galloping horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in its sequence of motion. To solve the question, and win the bet for Leland, Muybridge rapidly photographed a racehorse in motion, then copied his images in the form of silhouettes onto a disc to be viewed in a machine he had invented, called a zoopraxiscope.

The zoopraxiscope was later regarded as an early movie projector, and Muybridge’s process as an influential step toward motion pictures or cinematography. Even if the history is unfamiliar, the film likely is not.

But, I have never seen this fantastic tale told on film as expertly as the latest short from filmmaker Drew Christie, entitled “The Emperor of Time.” The story of the Muybridge is told in the short from the perspective of the horse-loving son he abandoned as it flashes and flickers on a 19th-century mutoscope.

I promise, whether you are a horse person, a film lover, or just a human, you will connect with this stunning work of art, which was an official selection at Sundance Film Festival this year. It will also screen at Sydney Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and Berkshire International Film Festival in the next month.


Marjorie Wilkinson Bio PicAbout the Author

Marjorie Wilkinson is the co-founder and co-editor of Counter-Canter Culture—a revolutionary online publication intended to unite the equestrians and equestrian-enthusiasts who aren’t afraid to kick up the dust that has settled on the conventional equine lifestyle. She is also a real-life Hollywood music supervisor and the official curator of Counter-Canter Culture’s musical column, 100% Sound.

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