The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy (1915, Willis O’Brien)

Until the Missing Link shows up, The Dinosaur and the Missing Link is strangely realistic. Director O’Brien’s stop motion creations–he always uses long shot–seem like actors, like any other silent with a terrible print. It’s eerie. Even the gorilla-like Missing Link occasionally looks like a guy in costume. O’Brien’s eyes are fantastic, along with characters’ barely moving pauses between lines.

O’Brien imagines the prehistoric world as a spoof on high society. For a while, it’s just a really funny short. Then, once the Missing Link arrives, it’s clear O’Brien’s going to make the stop motion exciting in addition to excellent. The cast goes on a hunt, one involving a fantastic bow and arrow shot, the titular Dinosaur and a lot of landscape sets. Models. You know what I mean.

For the conclusion, O’Brien finds a mix of humor, realism and special effects. It’s a wonderful little picture.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed, animated and photographed by Willis O’Brien; produced by Herman Wobbler; released by Conquest Pictures.

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