|"Rover" and the "Rescued"|
|Jean, the Vitagraph dog | Mack Sennett with Teddy|
Also from 1900, “Explosion of a Motor Car” features Hepworth’s attempt at trick photography (a technique that was to become synonymous with Georges Melies).
“Rover,” on the other hand, doesn’t feature any experimental camera work or trick photography, instead it is innovative in its storytelling. Although it’s a short film, only about six and a half minutes long, it features a lot of clever, coherent editing and cutting to help keep the story moving. The flow from scene to scene is logical and helps keep the narrative understandable, while the clever cuts that shorten Rover’s journey help keep the momentum going and keep the audience riveted. D.W. Griffith would go one to perfect the race to the rescue, but keep in mind, Hepworth achieved this technique in 1905. That’s two years before Griffith appeared in his first film and three years before he began directing!
To say this film was popular would be an understatement. At a time when many films were still one and two minutes long, and featuring brief scenes that had more of a documentary quality to them than narrative, Hepworth gave audiences a fully formed, engaging and fast-paced narrative. The film was so popular that it had to be remade two times to keep up with demand and replace worn out negatives.
You can watch “Rescued by Rover” in its entirety below, and keep an eye out for another post about Hepworth. I have a feeling we'll be revisiting him in the future.