The Magic Box (1951)

Film details


Biography of William Friese-Greene, a British pioneer of the cinema who held a patent for a camera with celluloid running through it to capture moving images. Friese-Greene arrives at a guest house run by his wife, with whom he no longer lives. He assures her he has finally cracked the secret of colour film, and he hurries off to a film industry convention. His wife sadly recalls to a colleague her times with Friese-Greene, from their first meeting in a laboratory, to their struggles as they raise their children while he spends his money on his photography projects to the extent that three sons decide to go to war, so as not to be a burden on their parents. At the film industry convention, Friese-Greene, a now forgotten figure, reminisces about his earlier life; how he was a photographer's assistant and set up his own business, how he met his first wife, a lady from abroad with delicate health, how he set up in business with a friend but business went badly the more time Friese-Greene spent on developing his celluloid film strip, and how he finally achieved success at about the same time as his wife fell very ill. At the industry convention, Friese-Greene feebly urges the businessmen in charge of film not to squabble and squander the wonder of moving pictures.

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top