May 19, 1897 [Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory]

A study in scientific white, as if the Pope were in an Easter Sunday performance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, his surplice swiping along the film's surface as he scampers among the beakers and tubes, rows of bottles behind him in reliquian solidity, the whole thing ridiculous but necessary, the final layer of performance-artifice. It is an imitation of Edison by Edison, as real (and as imagined) as his comment that "everything comes to him who hustles while he waits." And as we watch him hustle, we find ourselves waiting for yet another moving image--always more, if not better--and it seems we have not asked for much better, but may turn away from cinematographics, satiated with vaudeville acts and actualities, waiting for Edison to get to some new consecration—or to leave the altar and go back to the drawing room. In any case, I'm glad to have seen the Old Guy, in a typical motion: preparing some novel explosion, one hopes, to rouse the almost-dormant Parliaments of cinema.


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