The humbuggery of Mr. Cook
Previously, MobyLives held a contest to see if anyone could guess the three films used in Jean-Christophe Valtat‘s beautiful black and white trailer for Aurorarama (excluding the stock Edison footage). David Abrams was the first commenter to guess two of the films correctly (“Nanook of the North” and “Way Down East”) but everyone was stumped by the very obscure and (according to Valtat) very bad 1912 film “The Truth About the North Pole” by Frederick Cook. The film was made by Cook in an attempt to dramatize his alleged expedition to the North Pole, an expedition that, like his “first” ascent of Mt. McKinley, is widely considered to be false. This website devoted to Cook’s fakery describes the film as:
A set of “historically accurate” motion pictures dramatizing episodes of his polar experiences, entitled The Truth About the North Pole.
During the showing of the film, one loud protester had to be forcibly removed from the theater, and most of the audience seemed seized with an uncontrollable desire to snicker and laugh outright at Dr. Cook in the Arctic regions.
In a final bit of film trivia, the footage of what appears to be Venice is actually shot at the 1915 San Francisco World Fair. Apparently, it was quite popular for World Fairs to create artificial versions of Venice, replete with canals and gondolas. Anyhow, we’ve decided that two out of three ain’t bad. Mr. Abrams, a signed copy of Aurorarama is yours for the claiming. I hope you enjoy its many tantalizing references…