‘Exposing Muybridge’ Review: Putting a Cinematic Pioneer in Focus

‘Exposing Muybridge’ Review: Putting a Cinematic Pioneer in Focus


Exposing MuybridgeJordan Peele’s “No,” a documentary on the art and science of first-time photographer Edward Muybridge, has been released less than two weeks after shedding new light. Moybridge’s proto-cinematic images of horses in motion.

The documentary, written and directed by Mark Schaefer, is a standard, PBS-ready biographical survey of sorts, with talking heads recounting the highlights of Muybridge’s career. By comparison, Thom Andersen’s “Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer” from 1975 made more innovative use of Muybridge’s photographs for visual and storytelling purposes. Still, Shaffer devotes time to aspects of Muybridge’s legacy that don’t all make the standard rundown.

Before Muybridge turned his attention to animation, the movie notes, he shot scenes in the West. Shaffer takes photographers Byron Wolff and Mark Klett to Taenia Lake in California’s Yosemite National Park, where they try to find Muybridge’s original location. They also analyze images of the same location. by 20th-century photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, to highlight Muybridge’s distinctive eye as an artist.

Others share views on Muybridge’s eccentricity. Actor Gary Oldman, a collector of Muybridge’s work, has been involved. Trying to make a Muybridge biopic.The photographer comes across as a serious enthusiast when explaining his goals and images. Biographer Marta Brown and art historian Amy Verbal have challenged the idea that studies of Muybridge’s movement at the University of Pennsylvania should count as scientific according to the university’s outward expectations. Film historian Tom Gunning points out that Muybridge was, unwittingly, a realist pioneer.

While starchy in presentation, “Exposing Muybridge” makes clear that its subject’s photographs still have a lot to show us.

Exposing Muybridge
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Rent or buy. Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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