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The persistence of media fantasies

by Oliver Gaycken

In this scene, Dr. Xavier tests his fluid that enhances vision.

This moment foreshadows, in a highly compressed way, Xavier's own experience with the fluid, as he, too, is at first displays new skills thanks to his new sight but is then ultimately incapacitated by his enhancement.

Also noteworthy is how closely this scene recalls earlier X-ray fiction, specifically C.H.T. Crosthwaite's "Röntgen's Curse" (1896), where another inventor, Herbert Newton, creates a fluid that will allow for X-ray vision. Newton tests his discovery on an animal (his faithful dog Dash), whose reaction is described thusly: "The brute's eyes dilated with terror, his hair bristled on his back, he shrank back from me slowly, paralyzed by deadly fear. And then there went forth from him a cry of horror too awful for words to tell. It was unearthly, unfleshly—such a cry as a damned soul may give forth on hearing its condemnation. I have read of the shrieks of wounded horses on the field of battle; I have heard the groans of man in mortal agony; in the depths of the jungle I have heard the piteous cry of the deer seized by a beast of prey—all sounds eloquent of pain and fear. But these were as voices of joy compared to that cry of terror and despair that froze the blood in my veins and bade my pulse cease to beat." (The full story is available here:!roentgens-curse/cnc1)

For an essay about Crothwaite's story and others like it, see:

Foreshadowing in X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

A scene from X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes where Dr. Xavier tests his fluid on a monkey.

from X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
Creator: Roger Corman
Posted by Oliver Gaycken