I first wrote about the film on my blog in October 2014. It is quite an unknown film, but a good ‘un, and it is quite masterful in its own way. Robert Donat was a bit of a gem himself – not just in this film, but in all the other film roles he did over his film career.
Anyway, while this film was not perfect it was still solid enough to stand up on its own, give or take a few plotholes. One such plothole is – what happens to Greene’s daughter? She’s never seen again after the one scene she makes an appearance in, and as a result it leaves a big hole in the narrative.
This film was also classified as a ‘flop’ and I can see why. A film about the beginnings of film isn’t the sort of film that you would really go to watch unless you had a particular interest in the subject. While Friese-Green was indeed a pioneer of early film, he is still not as well-remembered as, say, Edison.
The film is presented in a non-linear style so Friese-Greene’s story comes full circle. The film begins and ends with him at a film board meeting with nobody recognizing him or who he is, and as the film progresses we see how much Greene sacrificed in pursuit of cinematic discovery – debts and two failed marriages nonwithstanding! That being said, of course there is going to be a certain element of fiction and melodrama to make the film watchable but its still a super movie. I wish more people knew of it.
MY RATING: ***.5 / *****