Scen.: Marc Shaffer. F.: James Ball, John Behrens, Andreas Burgess, Jay Dacey, Wesley Johnson, Chris Patterson, Benjamin Pritchard. M.: Elisabeth Haviland James. Scgf.: Drew Takahashi. Mus.: Chad Cannon. Int.: Luther Gerlach (Eadweard Muybridge), Heather Lake (fantino), Leo Shaffer (primo assistente), Tracy Storer (secondo assistente), Marc Shaffer (terzo assistente). Prod.: Marc Shaffer, Elisabeth Haviland James, Serginho Roosblad per Inside Out Media. DCP. D.: 88’. Col.
The first time Eadweard Muybridge caught my eye was with a photograph of a solitary man, standing with his back to the camera, gazing towards the bridgeless Golden Gate and to the Pacific Ocean beyond. The image beckoned with a magnetic force, a pull I would experience over and over again as I looked at more Muybridge images.
I didn’t know the name Muybridge. Curious, I typed the odd moniker into a search engine and was suddenly staring at a sea of photographs of animals and people in motion: galloping horses and flying birds; men frozen in air, throwing punches, lifting weights; erotically tinged images of naked men grappling with one another, and nude women kissing, bathing, undressing, and dancing. These images I instantly recognized. “Oh, that guy.”
As I learned more about the complicated photographer, the first to capture with a camera something moving faster than the human eye can see (those galloping horses), I became seduced not only by his images but by his extraordinary story, one that dripped with melodrama and read like a prequel to our own. There was ambition, arrogance, betrayal and resilience; racism, sexism, colonial expansion and class power; all set in an earlier age of invention, when nearly everyone believed new technology was an unquestioned instrument of progress, an objective arbiter of truth, a sign of racial and cultural superiority.
As I dug deeper, I watched as Muybridge wielded his camera to produce fact and fiction, document and distort, make myth and tell stories, and if you look hard enough, reveal a kind of truth, if not always what it appeared to be at first glance. In that process, I saw myself as a descendant of this man, standing behind my camera, searching for my truth, as I created my version of Muybridge for you to see.