Walter Booth’s Proto-SF Fables

The Aerial Submarine
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Kineto Films. UK 1910
Print: BFI

Walter R. Booth, born in Worcester on 12 July 1869, was a porcelain painter and an amateur magician, who joined the magic company at the Egyptian Hall in London in the 1890s. Booth became a producer of trick films for Robert Paul in 1899. In 1906, Booth moved to the Charles Urban Trading Company. He established his own studio in his garden at Isleworth, London, with Harold Bastick as his cameraman. Notable among the films produced there were the first British animated film, The Hand of the Artist (1906), The Sorcerer’s Scissors (1907) and When the Devil Drives (1907). His invasion fantasies, such as The Airship Destroyer (1909) and The Aerial Submarine (1910), are entertaining proto-science fiction fables in the Jules Verne mould.”
Cinematograph Magic

The Automatic Motorist
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Kineto Films. UK 1911
Print: BFI

“A bride, a motorcar, a robot chauffeur and a policeman – what could possibly go wrong? Fantasy and ‘trick’ film pioneer W.R. Booth uses cut-out animation and models to create a truly out-of-this-world sci-fi adventure. The mad-cap plot sees a newlywed couple transported from a country lane to outer-space (via St Paul’s Cathedral), where the policeman encounters some pretty feisty Saturnians…
W.R. Booth was a stage magician turned filmmaker, whose hand-drawing techniques pointed the way towards animated cartoons. His taste for fantastical imagery and Jules Verne-style journeys echoes the work of fellow illusionist Georges Méliès: the grinning moon in The Automatic Motorist is a definite nod to Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902).”
Player BFI

>>> The Airship Destroyer on this site: 1909: The Aerial Warfare To Come

>>> The Obsessions of Walter Booth