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Uncle Tom's Cabin1903

  • 2.7
In May of 1903, Edison's chief American rival, Biograph, assembled a series of scenes featuring famed actor Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle that they had originally filmed and released in 1896, offering them for sale to exhibitors as a special release. The Edison Company responded with a much more ambitious version of filmed theater: UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, which relied on a traveling Uncle Tom's Cabin theatrical troupe to provide performers and sets. Uncle Tom's Cabin was undoubtedly the most popular American stage show in the second half of the nineteenth century, playing most towns in the northern states a few times every year. The story was so well-known to period spectators that many apparently found it easy to follow, even if today's audiences now find the unfolding of events to be obscure. Porter and the studio staff offered extended excerpts of well-known scenes and introduced each one with its own title card; in fact, this was perhaps the very first film for which Edison provided a head title. Previously, head titles had most often been projected using a lantern slide made by (or especially for) the exhibitor. Here was one more way in which the production company was assuming greater responsibility for providing a more complete show.

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