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Museum of Cinema-Tomàs Mallol Collection

Out of the Shadows

“Out of the shadows” area, dedicated to shadow theatre

“Out of the shadows” area, dedicated to shadow theatre

Shadow theatre is the most remote forerunner of motion pictures on the screen. They are when light and shadow were used to tell stories for the first time.

The origin of this art form is unsure, but it is known that it came from the Far East (China, Indonesia, Japan, India, etc.) around the third century AD. These performances were based on the mythological stories or legends from those countries.

Traders and travellers working in the East brought the shadow theatre first to Turkey and Greece in the 14th century, and later to Western Europe after the 17th century. Here they were primarily used to enact popular tales.

In Western Europe, shadow theatre never achieved the success it did in the East, mainly due to the popularisation of the magic lamp show, which was spreading throughout the West at the same time.

At the end of the 19th century, shadow theatre enjoyed a certain revival in Europe, especially in entertainment halls, cabarets and theatres. The top exponent of this kind of show was the Parisian Le Chat Noir, where the performances became highly complex with sound and light effects, orchestras, etc.


01. The shadow theater

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<p>Indian shadow theater figure (ca. 19<sup>th</sup> century)</p>
Javanese shadow theatre figure
Javanese shadow theatre figure
<p>Booklet for Western shadow theatre, "<em>El diablo de la cesta</em>" (Barcelona, 1864)</p>
Figure for a Western shadow th
Figure for a Western shadow theatre
<p>Perforated metal sphere, China, 18<sup>th</sup> to 19<sup>th</sup> centuries</p>
Chinese sphere
Chinese sphere
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