Edison Manufacturing Company, United States, 1902
Film, transferred to DVD, 3 minutes
General Collections, Library of Congress, Washington DC NV-061-499
In 1902, the fabled powers of yogis met the magic of movies when Thomas Edison filmed the stage act of an Indian magician. The first movie ever made on “India,” Hindoo Fakir brought the already interwoven stereotypes of charlatan yogi and mystic East into the realm of cinema.
The star of the film on is likely A. N. Dutt, a Bengali who, like other magicians of the time, took on the persona of a fakir-yogi. If all films are documentaries in that they reflect the tastes and prejudices of their times, Hindoo Fakir fits the bill in a number of ways. It delights in showing off the new illusions that cinema could create, documents one of the most popular magicians of the period, and revels in the iconography of mystic India.