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December 5, 2012

Courtney Caughey-Stambul: ‘Santa Claus’ way ahead of its time in 1898

NEW CASTLE — In 1898, George Albert Smith directed the film short, "Santa Claus." It is one of the earliest Christmas films ever produced.

George Albert Smith, also known as G.A. Smith, was a portrait photographer with an interest in film. He directed, produced, and filmed numerous shorts and documentaries throughout the younger years of his life, until about 1911. He died in 1959. He also patented the world's first commercial cinema color system called Kinemacolor.

To read more about G.A. Smith, CLICK HERE.

To watch "Santa Claus," CLICK HERE.

Smith's short "Santa Claus" opens with two children preparing for bed with help from their nanny. Their stockings are hung on their bed posts.

Notice that the stockings are literal stockings. How many people hang their socks on the mantle nowadays? I'm guessing not many.

But anyway, the nanny shuts off the light in the room and Santa appears at the home's chimney, then in the children's bedroom. He stuffs their stockings with toys.

If you watch carefully, you'll see that one of the toys falls out of the stocking. Oops.

Santa disappears and the children wake up, full of excitement.

The short achieves a lot in terms of special effects for its time period, and for only being just over one minute in length. The darkening of the room in the film is accomplished with a black curtain and the view of Santa outside at the chimney is projected onto the curtain. If you ask me, it's all pretty neat for 1898!

Happy watching!


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