Oscar Apfel

The Passer-By
R: Oscar Apfel. B: Marion Brooks. K: Otto Brautigan, Henry Cronjager. D: George Lessey, Miriam Nesbitt, Marc McDermott, Guy Hedlund. P: Edison Company. USA 1912

“(The) memory flash back, which takes up about three quarters of the film’s duration, is introduced by a combination of tracking shots and editing. From a full shot of the men, the camera smoothly closes in on the narrator up to a medium to shoulder close-up. Then a dissolve hides the cut to a much younger version of the same man and the memory flash back starts. Note that the spectators are being visually eased into the dissolve by heavy cigarette smoke on the margins of the frame. Subsequently, the camera pulls back again until the image is back to a full shot. The story continues in the past as told by the stranger until it seems he to have reached almost the age of the present day, when, with the same combination of movement and editing, the film jumps back to the bachelor party of the framing narrative. (…) Invoking thus not only that TIME IS SPACE but also more specifically that THE PAST LIES BEHIND is a conventionalized metaphor that also manifests itself in everyday language but is realized here with an actual, spatial camera movement ‘transporting’ the viewers from the present to the past. At the same time, the combined camera movements and close-up in The Passer-By also (…) suggest the concept of the head being a CONTAINER for the mind that, in this case, may be accessed by the spectators through the camera’s attempt to travel inside the character’s memories.”
Maike Sarah Reinerth: Metaphors of the Mind in Film. In: Kathrin Fahlenbrach: Embodied Metaphors in Film, Television, and Video Games. Routledge 2015, p. 223-224

“Oscar C. Apfel (January 17, 1878March 21, 1938) was an American film actor, director, screenwriter and producer. He appeared in 167 films between 1913 and 1939, and also directed 94 films between 1911 and 1927. Born in Cleveland, Ohio where he secured his first professional engagement in 1900. He spent eleven years on the stage on Broadway then joined the Edison Company. Apfel first directed for the Edison Company (Thomas A. Edison, Inc.) in 191112, where he made the innovative short film The PasserBy (1912). In 1913, he became one of two main directors for the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, the other being Cecil B. DeMille. Apfels directorial collaboration with DeMille was a crucial element in the development of DeMilles filmmaking technique. Apfel is often creditied as being one of the first men (along with DeMille) to bring Hollywood, then known as Hollywoodland, to the world stage. Legend has it that the two filmmakers were scouting for a location to shoot The Squaw Man (1914) in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, the conspicuously snowcapped mountains contradicted the pictures sweltering western setting. So they climbed aboard a train and headed west. Eventually they found themselves in a sleepy district of Los Angeles named Hollywoodland. The all yearround sunshine and cheap land made it an ideal place to shoot films. In late 1914, Apfel left the Lasky Company and directed for various companies into the 1920s, gradually returning to acting.”

“Oscar Apfel came from a large family. The 1900 census lists the Apfels at 134 Pelton St., Cleveland Ohio. (…) In 1900 this neighborhood was predominantly German; almost all of the Apfels’ neighbors, like them, were first- or second-generation German-Americans. In June of 1900 Philip Apfel, Oscar’s father, and Louise, his mother, were both 47. Both his parents had been born in Germany.”

669-Oscar Apfel

Oscar Apfel films on this site:
>>> The Squaw Man
>>> The Last Volunteer
>>> Thirty Days at Hard Labor