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film

Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs, Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World, 2006–2007, still from a color video, 92 minutes.

IN 2006, KEN JACOBS took a one-minute film produced in 1903 by Thomas Edison and made of it an infernal machine. The title of the Edison film is Razzle Dazzle. Jacobs calls his version Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World. The subtitle refers to the world of the original film, which Jacobs excavates for ninety-two minutes to reveal the skull beneath the skin. Then, too, the lost world is our own.

Jacobs’s Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (1969)—an American avant-garde classic, added to the National Film Registry last year—is similarly based on an early movie, G. W. “Billy” Bitzer’s 1905 adaptation of the cautionary nursery rhyme. Jacobs refilmed the original (which depicts the adventures of Tom and his purloined pig), using what now seem like laughably primitive tools: a 16 mm Arriflex camera and a variable-speed projector. A demanding, formally elegant, meditative work, Jacobs’s Tom,

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