Rescued By Rover (1905)
So much has been written about this film (there are over 1500 hits on Google!) it's hard to summarise it here - but I'll try to assemble opinions from numerous experts to suggest why "Rescued by Rover" is a pivotal development in the history of cinematography and screenplay.
Watch a version here.
The most successful British film in 1905 was Rescued By Rover. Members of Hepworth’s family acted in what was an important film in the history of early cinema. Rover the family dog, the world's first dog star, (the Hepworth family dog, Blair), not only saves a baby (played by daughter Barbara Hepworth) from thieving gypsies but also brings the wrongdoer to justice. Mrs. Hepworth played the Mother. The film embraces limited cross-cutting shots linking the locales of the baby and worried parents.
Cecil Hepworth's Rescued by Rover in 1905 presents in a seven minute story a lucid succession of visual images. Hepworth's narrative pattern of symmetry and repetition, Barr maintains, was a "clear precursor of the short films made by D.W. Griffith for the Biograph Company in America between 1908 and 1913, based on the same structural principle of repetition and variation, of permutations worked upon a limited number of camera set-ups. Griffith is likely to have seen Rescued by Rover, and it may be no coincidence that his own first film, 'The Adventures of Dollie', tells of the loss and rescue of a small child."
Hepworth made about 400 copies selling at £8 each, a very significant income for the time, securing the future of the company.
When Blair died in 1914, he was so famous he earned several obituaries in the press. One said:
"The Hepworth Manufacturing Company have just suffered quite a severe loss in the death of their famous old dog Rover. This faithful animal had been Mr. Hepworth's constant companion even before the Hepworth Company had been founded, and was the general pet of the studio at Walton-on-Thames. He was the first animal to play an independent part in a cinematograph film, and was the hero of many pictures. ... Many others besides the Hepworth Company will deplore the death of this old favourite." [Searching for the Stars, Geoffrey MacNab, Cassell, 2000 ISBN 0-304-33352-2]
'Rover Drives a Car'. Scene from Cecil Hepworth's film, made at Walton on Thames in 1907, with his daughter Barbara as the passenger.
The film starred the Hepworth family dog, "Blair".
More to follow later...