“Eadweard” directed by Kyle Rideout
Reviewed by Main Tim
Near the middle of the feature-length biopic Eadweard, the main character, the spry, late middle-aged 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, as portrayed by actor Michael Eklund, lifts a pocket watch that allegedly keeps poor time, from San Francisco drama critic Harry Larkyns, a man he suspects is having an affair with his wife. It’s the wee hours and the faulty timepiece is blamed for keeping the young wife out way past his bedtime. Muybridge takes possession of the watch in question, just as he believes possession has been taken of his wife. He says to his uncomfortable rival, “A watch can be repaired.” Not just an object lesson, but cold, prophetic words from the man who controlled time by freezing and unfreezing it in his ground-breaking scientific photography of human and animal locomotion.
After being shot at point blank range by Muybridge and quickly dying a reel later, it’s safe to say that Muybridge and his rival Larkyn both understand a heart, whether stopped by a bullet or crushed by betrayal, can rarely be repaired.
To dramatic effect, the Muybridge character removes Victorian clothing (and repression) from his subjects by declaring, “From now on, all of my subjects will be naked.” It’s a turning point in his study relevant. Just scientific research he earnestly tries to explain to his wife. Completely different than her modeling with a bare a shoulder for a painter. She just doesn’t get it.
An introductory portrayal is of a much younger Muybridge suffering a severe head injury in a stagecoach accident. It’s accepted that this accounts for his work’s inventive inquiry and raging domestic jealousy. On trial for the murder years later, he was found not guilty. Not because of brain-damaged insanity as his defense argued, but via justifiable homicide, or “By doin’ the right thing,” as the jury foreman in the film declares. It was the last time in the U.S. justice was served out in that ancient, primitive manner. But it’s not what ended with Muybridge, it’s what began with him.
Based on a recent stage play of the same name. Canadian director Kyle Rideout’s Eadweard faithfully follows the biographic template of Muybridge as covered previously by Phillip Glass’s opera The Photographer. Minus Mr. Glass’s meditative repetition, and likewise in contrast to Muybridge’s concern that his work was perceived as art and not scientific discovery, Mr. Rideout is comfortable finding a story of love and passion with the trappings of quirky, scientific inquiry.
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