Journalism Cinema Picture play Alexander Black Women Journalists
Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Peña-Fernández, S. (Simón); Lazkano-Arrillaga, I. (Iñaki). "Alexander Black’s Miss Jerry (1894). A journalist in the prehistory of cinema". Communication & Society. 30 (3), 2017, 61 - 73
At the dawn of the moving image, there was a plethora of initiatives that sought to reproduce reality in images. In 1894, one year before the Lumière brothers patented their cinematograph, the journalist, photographer and writer Alexander Black developed the picture play system. These fused images together to create a new form of audiovisual narration with which he aspired to create “an illusion of reality”. He refined the expressive capacities of existing photography to try to recreate what the first attempts to reproduce moving images could not achieve, namely, to tell complete stories using images. For his first work he chose to relate the tribulations of a young journalist: Miss Jerry. In the formative period of the cinema, Black’s contribution – midway between photography and cinema – had no influence at all on the technical development of the new medium; it was, however, an elaborate antecedent of the construction of visual narratives and his success showed that the public was prepared to welcome cinematographic stories. The image of journalism provided by Miss Jerry also anticipated one of the most solid stereotypes of the woman-journalist in the cinema, known as the sob-sister.