Around 1900, the issues of poverty and poor relief were the source of heated controversy. This DVD
illustrates in seven chapters how examinations of the ‘Social Question’ were presented in magic lantern slide sets and early films. On the screens of auditoriums, Sunday schools, music-halls, cinemas and churches, visitors could witness orphans freezing to death in the snow, drunkards plunging their families into misery and helpless old people begging for a scrap of bread. Audiences experienced poignant moving pictures in performances with music, singing and recitations. The photographic and film industries delivered glass slide sets and films in very large runs on a variety of themes relating to poverty.

This DVD recalls the forgotten art of projection and presents it anew on the modern electronic screen: drawing on original images and using authentic projection equipment, Ensemble illuminago shows enchanting Victorian slide shows and films in a live musical performance at the Munich Film Museum. Digital slideshows reconstruct the interaction between slide sets und text recitals, and early silent films are accompanied with music as they were a century ago: piano and violin underscore the moods that find visual expression in the films. Nowadays it is rather unusual to find both films and slide sets presented on one DVD. Around 1900 it was common knowledge that the "moving pictures" in a film had evolved from photographic slide sets. Showmen, touring lecturers, music-hall entrepreneurs and cinema operators often used both projection media alternately in their live shows.

The selection of lantern sets and early films was made within the framework of two projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG):
– Mediale Praktiken und Soziale Frage im Etablierungsprozess neuer Projektionsmedien um 1900
– Der Einsatz visueller Medien in der Armenfürsorge in Großbritannien und Deutschland um 1900
(Teilprojekt im Sonderforschungsbereich 600: Fremdheit und Armut)