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The Einstein Theory of Relativity


The Einstein Theory of Relativity

A frame from a German relativity film produced in 1922, published in Scientific American.

The Einstein Theory of Relativity (1923) is a silent film directed by Max and Dave Fleischer and released by Fleischer Studios.

In August 1922, Scientific American published an article explaining their position that a silent film would be unsuccessful in presenting Albert Einstein's theory of relativity to the general public. They argued that only as part of a broader educational package including lecture and text would such a film be successful. Scientific American then went on to review frames from an unnamed German film reported to be financially successful.

Six months later, on February 11, 1923, the Fleischers released their relativity film, produced in collaboration with popular science journalist Garrett P. Serviss to accompany his book on the same topic. Two versions of the Fleischer film are reported to exist - a shorter two-reel (20 minute) edit intended for general theater audiences, and a longer five-reel (50 minute) version intended for educational use.[1]

The Fleischers lifted footage from the German predecessor, Die Grundlagen der Einsteinschen Relativitäts-Theorie,[2] directed by Hanns-Walter Kornblum, for inclusion into their film. Presented here are images from the Fleischer film and German film. If actual footage was not recycled into The Einstein Theory of Relativity, these images and text from the Scientific American article suggest that original visual elements from the German film were.[3]

This film, like much of the Fleischer's work, has fallen into the public domain. Unlike Fleischer Studio's Superman or Betty Boop cartoons, The Einstein Theory of Relativity has very few existing prints and is available in 16mm from only a few specialized film preservation organizations.


  1. ^ "Relativity in the Films". Scientific American. August 1922. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  2. ^ Die Grundlagen der Einsteinschen Relativitäts-Theorie at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ "Re: First animated feature ever". Archived from the original on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 

External links

  • at VimeoThe Einstein Theory of Relativity
  • at IMDBThe Einstein Theory of Relativity
  • The Em Gee Film Library, one of the only preservation resources offering a 16mm print of the film.
  • The Einstein Theory of Relativity DVD of the film bundled with guidebook by Garrett P. Serviss (and including another Fleischer documentary, Evolution), from Apogee Books, ISBN 1-894959-51-5.
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