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  • Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff
  • Elizabeth Bush
Rockliff, Mara Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker; illus. by Simona Ciraolo. Chronicle,
2018 60p
ISBN 978-1-4521-4134-3 $17.99
R 5-8 yrs

In the earliest of the early days of motion-picture technology at the end of the nineteenth century, when film of trains on the move and people exiting a factory could excite wonder in an audience, Alice Guy, the secretary at France's Gaumont Studio, had a breakthrough moment. She knew that this technology could be used not just to document activity but to tell stories, and with the approval of her boss, she began to produce film for which she did it all—the plotting, the casting, the sets, the costumes. She added color; she introduced synchronized sound; she experimented with visual effects. With her husband, a Gaumont cameraman, she moved to America and eventually built her own studio, Solax. In Alice Guy-Blaché, Rockliff finds that holy grail of picture book biographies—a well-documented life of a fascinating woman who has been overlooked. With Ciraolo supplying witty watercolor illustrations of the tidy Gibson Girl holding sway over antic movie sets, Rockliff packages her narrative as a series of movie scenes, with each act introduced [End Page 137] by a silent movie card ("The Great Discovery," "A Severe Test") that cites the title of one of her own films. Closing notes address the question "So why hasn't everybody heard of Alice Guy-Blaché?" head-on and then guides readers to additional material, including several movies easily accessed via an online search. EB



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pp. 137-138
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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