Chinese wuxia (and derivative Western) fiction describes the touch of death, a single blow that can kill an opponent. Surprisingly, this is actually possible.
Twelve years before Orson Welles’ classic radio play The War of the Worlds, BBC Radio broadcast a hoax revolution in which government ministers were murdered and Big Ben demolished by trench mortars.
What do George Spelvin, Walter Plinge, David Agnew, and Alan Smithee have in common? None of them exist.
Mickey Mouse’s first words were spoken not by Walt Disney but by Carl Stalling, who went on to compose 22 years’ worth of soundtracks for Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.
The first film to feature a woman tied to train tracks starred one of the earliest female directors and producers, Mabel Normand. She may also have been the recipient of the first pie-in-the-face film gag.
A plot point in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home features the fictional material transparent aluminium. Around the same time, actual transparent aluminium was patented.
A hundred years ago Soviet filmmakers such as Lev Kuleshov and Sergei Eisenstein demonstrated how you could create meaning purely through film editing.
On a theatre stage in the middle of the night, one light remains lit. It’s there to appease old ghosts… or prevent accidents that would make new ghosts.
Between 2004 and 2005 the North Korean television show Common Sense ran a propaganda series titled Let’s Trim our Hair in Accordance with the Socialist Lifestyle.
An iconic image of silent film: a space ship approaches the face in the moon and crashes into its… mouth? In 1908 a competitor made a nearly identical shot-for-shot remake of Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon.
Leia and Luke crash land on Mimban, are arrested by stormtroopers, fall in with a pair of drunk aliens, escape, float on giant lily-pads, then chop off Darth Vader’s arm. This is the official 1978 novel sequel to Star Wars.
Samuel Beckett wrote one of the shortest performed plays in the world on the back of a postcard. The first staging still managed to mess it up.
Want to be on the radio? Try saying this first: “The seething sea ceased to see, then thus sufficeth thus.”
A woman walks down a street at night. The scene is silent but for her footsteps. Suddenly there’s a hiss and scream like a wild cat… but it’s only a bus. This is Cat People, the first sound film to use a jump scare.
Pierre Boulle won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Bridge on the River Kwai. He did not write the screenplay, did not accept the award in person, and in fact did not even speak English.