The Death of Poor Joe (1901) - earliest Dickens film, 1-min long
March 11, 2012 9:35 PM   Subscribe

The earliest surviving Charles Dickens film, thought lost since 1954, has been re-found in the British Film Institute's archive. The Death of Poor Joe (YouTube HD, IMDB, Wikipedia), a one minute-long silent film based on an episode in Dickens' novel Bleak House, was filmed in 1901.
posted by stbalbach (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Historically interesting, to be sure, but you'd never know what the heck it was supposed to be without the title (and even the title doesn't entirely help--it's "Jo," not "Joe"). One of the polemical points about Jo's death in the novel is that he doesn't know how to pray--he has to be coached through a Lord's Prayer, and dies before it's finished--so the film's "hands clasped to heaven" bit caused me to eeerrrrrk a bit. But still, good find.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:48 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's a "child crossing sweeper"?
posted by unliteral at 10:02 PM on March 11, 2012

It's like a squeegee man, but for horse-befouled intersections instead of windshields.
posted by Iridic at 10:10 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's a "child crossing sweeper"?

In Victorian England, children were routinely hired to sweep the street crossings. They'd stand outside in whatever weather and sweep the crossing as needed all day long, every day. They would have been children from very poor families, if not orphans with no one at all to take care of them.
posted by orange swan at 10:40 PM on March 11, 2012

Co-Starring "Super-powerful Flashlight as The Holy Spirit"?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:54 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jo(e) was played by filmmaker G.A. Smith's wife, Laura Bayley.
Smith's films in the years 1897-1903 were largely comedies and adaptations of popular fairy tales and stories. His wife, Laura Bayley, influenced his work within these genres. Her life in popular theatre before 1897, particularly in pantomime and comic revues, placed Smith in intimate contact with an experienced actress who understood visual comedy and the interests of seaside audiences.
Here she is in The X-Rays.
posted by pracowity at 11:19 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's turned wery dark, sir. Is there any light a-comin?"

"It is coming fast, Jo."

Fast. The cart is shaken all to pieces, and the rugged road is very near its end.

"Jo, my poor fellow!"

"I hear you, sir, in the dark, but I'm a-gropin—a-gropin—let me catch hold of your hand."

"Jo, can you say what I say?"

"I'll say anythink as you say, sir, for I knows it's good."

"Our Father."

"Our Father! Yes, that's wery good, sir."

"Which art in heaven."

"Art in heaven—is the light a-comin, sir?"

"It is close at hand. Hallowed be thy name!"

"Hallowed be—thy—"

The light is come upon the dark benighted way. Dead!

Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, right reverends and wrong reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.

posted by Eyebeams at 7:28 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the formatting, including the completely unnecessary bolding.
posted by Eyebeams at 7:42 AM on March 12, 2012

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