When Englishman Edward Muggeridge left home to seek his fortune in America, he advised his grandmother “I'm going to make a name for myself”. Which he did, in fact he made several. Shortly after arriving stateside, he removed an ‘e’ from his surname to become Edward Muggridge. From 1855 to 1865 he was known as Edward Muygridge, after which he changed his name to Edward Muybridge. It was under this name that the photographer was engaged to capture the gait of a horse, leading to his most well-known moniker... Eadweard Muybridge, the father of motion pictures.
The making of ‘The Horse in Motion’ is expeditiously dealt with in the beginning of Eadweard, its primary focus being Muybridge’s other significant work, ‘Animal Locomotion’. Employing the same principle of using a bank of cameras to take simultaneous shots of an action, these still photographs when viewed in sequence became a moving image. Yet while Muybridge obsessed over the variety of scenes to be recorded, his much younger wife felt neglected. Excluded from his work and forbidden to model for others, Flora is left to entertain herself while Eadweard is otherwise occupied.
Writer/director Kyle Rideout takes various events from Muybridge’s crowded life and merges them into intriguing story of a man driven to make his mark in the world. Portrayed by Michael Eklund in a manner that recalls Daniel Day Lewis (without the intensity), Muybridge’s efforts to capture motion are meticulously and attractively presented. Though deliberately paced, Eadweard nevertheless continues to maintain interest throughout, its eclectic soundtrack enhancing the film’s lyrical ambience. Co-writer Josh Epstein’s fleeting appearances as Thomas Edison neatly bookends the film.
Incidentally, Muybridge had one last name change after the events depicted in this film. His gravestone bears the inscription –
In Loving Memory
as Eadweard Muybridge
as Thomas Edison
Muybridge’s marriage to Flora had come to an end long before he began his studies in motion at the University of Pennsylvania.