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A 1909 animation on how spiders take to the air is a charming dip into the history of science

In this early stop-motion animation from 1909, the pioneering British naturalist and filmmaker F Percy Smith uses a mechanical model to illustrate how some spiders are able to fly by throwing a thread of silk to the wind. At the time, serious research on spiders was very limited – the arachnology field resembled something closer to a group of enthusiasts than a field of experts. Smith was among those enthusiasts, and was inspired to create this short film in part because he believed that demystifying the widely detested creatures would help to destigmatise them. While its arachnophobia-alleviating qualities are debatable, the charming and illuminating short stands as testament, more than a century later, to Smith’s avidity for the natural world.

Director: F Percy Smith

Website: British Film Institute

8 February 2018

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