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Fugitive Futurist, The

Entry updated 4 July 2022. Tagged: Film.

UK short silent film (1924). Subtitled A Q-­riosity by "Q.". Hepworth. Directed and written by Gaston Quiribet. Cast unknown. 12 minutes. Black and white.

As a forlorn gambler mulls over his losses after a day's horse racing, he is approached by a self-proclaimed inventor carrying a package: within, apparently, is a Machine "based on the idea that by amplifying the particular vibrations of the ether, termed vision, one is able to see beyond the limits of ordinary life". Unfortunately the inventor is pursued by spies, so needs someone to take care of the package. As he explains that his Invention can show the future, the audience sees several Near Future London examples, such as the sea encroaching on Trafalgar Square; Tower Bridge with a train line running along the high level walkways; the Houses of Parliament as an Airship terminal; and a revolution in building, self-laying bricks. The gambler is uninterested until he realizes the machine could show the winners of forthcoming races. The "spies" arrive, referring to the inventor as "Napoleon", and escort him away. The gambler now eagerly opens the box, only to find two bricks inside. He throws them at the departing lunatic (see Psychology).

The Fugitive Futurist is a mildly entertaining film, using camera tricks such as double exposure and stop-motion. However, despite the Time Viewer not being real – though it is pictured when described by its "inventor" – we do see purported visions of the future ... and the one of Trafalgar Square might be deemed prescient of global warming (see Climate Change), whilst the train running over Tower Bridge does look surprisingly modern (see Transportation). It might also be argued that, as viewers will assume they are being shown the device and its use, then this is an early example of the Unreliable Narrator in film (see Modernism in SF). [SP]


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