“Men of the Alps” is a 1939 black-and-white education film from the General Post Office Film Unit that focuses on life in Switzerland and the Swiss Alps. After a few scenic views, we quickly learn about Swiss men’s reputation as excellent marksmen (mark 01:00) in the footsteps of national hero William Tell— while Swiss women prefer to focus on being church-goers. As the camera pans across beautiful mountain scenes, the narrator explains that the mountains also make the growing of crops nearly impossible, leaving meadowlands available to grow hay or raise cattle for their milk which is then used to make cheese. The icy rock of the Alps also attracts many adventurers and tourists (mark 05:00) who yearn to scale the faces or ski down their sides. At mark 05:40 we’re shown some of the intricate models or automatons created by the Swiss, with complex inner workings that allow the figures to present almost lifelike qualities as well as eerily fluid penmanship. At mark 08:23, we learn of how the power of Swiss waters are harnessed and used to create energy.
An automaton is a self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power. One famous Swiss 18th century automaton maker was Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his contemporary Henri Maillardet. Maillardet, a Swiss mechanic, who created an automaton capable of drawing four pictures and writing three poems. Maillardet's Automaton is now part of the collections at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com