The first motion pictures debuted in 1895, and in the years immediately after, filmmakers rushed to figure out this new medium. Among those was the British stage hypnotist George Albert Smith, who got his first camera in 1896 or 1897, according to victorian-cinema.net, and by the end of 1897 had made a whopping 31 movies. The next year, he began experimenting with special effects—superimposition and clever editing, mostly—and created Santa Claus, the very first Christmas-themed film. It’s a simple (and silent) tale in which a familiar Saint Nick, in white-trimmed robe and long beard, descends a chimney to deliver gifts to two adorable Victorian tots. It’s only a minute and 17 seconds long, so give it a watch right here:
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