Santa Claus (1898)

I don't know how to classify this - technically, it's a movie.  In fact, it's one of the first movies ever made.  But it turns out that back in 1898, they didn't expect movies to have three-hour run times.

This one, for instance, clocks in at a minute and change.

There's no real story, per se.  The short film shows some kids getting tucked into bed, we see Santa show up (featuring some early special effects), he leaves some gifts, and he's on his way.



It's interesting to see an early version of Santa, sporting an outfit - and waistline - more reminiscent of his origins as a bishop than his current incarnation as a Coke-drinking, cookie-scarfing, overweight elf.

Some of the effects are also intriguing.  To simulate the lights being dimmed, they use a curtain that covers most of the set.  I find it fascinating to look at movies from when they were still incorporating stage techniques.  You get the sense that this was directed more like a puppet show or magic trick than anything else.  The very existence of movement and transformation on a screen was a draw in and of itself, and you can almost sense the glee its pioneers must have felt as they explored and played in the burgeoning art form.

So, is it worth seeing?  Sure.  At less than a minute and a half, you really can't lose.

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