Arthur Melbourne Cooper

Tale of the Ark
R: Arthur Melbourne Cooper. P: Alpha Trading Company. UK 1909
Print: BFI

Melbourne-Cooper is an interesting minor figure in early British film history, an assistant to Birt Acres (the first person to take a 35mm film in Britain) in the 1890s, then a pioneer of the animation film – some delightful examples survive, such as Dreams of Toyland (1908) and Noah’s Ark (1909) – as well as a being a producer of some rough-and-ready comedy films, typical of some of the low-grade British production of the time. He opened a cinema in his home town of St Albans in 1908 (an intriguingly rare example of an early filmmaker turning to film exhibition), made some industrial films, and generally had a diverting if small-scale career in the first years of British film.”
The Bioscope

Dreams of Toyland
R: Arthur Melbourne Cooper. P: Alpha Trading Company. UK 1908
Print: BFI

“Arthur Melbourne Cooper’s animation showing a boy’s dream of his toys coming to life uses a live action framing device for the dream sequence which uses stop motion techniques to animate a child’s toys. Evidently he shot this on an outdoor stage, as the careful viewer might notice from the strange movement of the shadows as he reposition the dolls. This device, book-ending the animation with a live action story, had been used the previous year by W.R. Booth in his film Dreamland Adventures, which showed two children travelling to the North Pole with their toys grown to life size. Melbourne-Cooper made several other films using this form.”
Bryony Dixon

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