Miniature women, acrobatic maids, and self-amputating domestics: Comediennes of the trick film

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Abstract

Silent film comedies were obsessed with images of shape-shifting women: housemaids dismembered their own limbs or stretched these limbs beyond human proportions, magical nicotine fairies miniaturized their entire bodies, and housewives metamorphosed into reptiles or celestial satellites. In this article, I look at female corporeality in transitional silent cinema as itself a trick technique. I argue that filmmakers used female metamorphosis in order to negotiate between trick attractions and integrated narrative effects - between filmmakings spectacular mass appeal and its institutional legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-151
Number of pages18
JournalEarly Popular Visual Culture
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

Keywords

  • Comedy
  • Early cinema
  • Gender
  • Segundo de Chomón
  • Trick film
  • Vitagraph

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