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The Derby 1895 (1895)

 -  Documentary | Short | Sport
5.2
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 136 users  
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A stationary camera, looking diagonally across a racetrack toward the infield, records the horses as they race past. Once they are out of view and the race is over, police officers run onto... See full summary »

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A stationary camera, looking diagonally across a racetrack toward the infield, records the horses as they race past. Once they are out of view and the race is over, police officers run onto the infield. The crowd moves around. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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race | police | horse | crowd | racetrack | See All (6) »


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This rare footage will be given a state-of-the-art home in Warwickshire, UK. The British Film Institute's film archives will be housed in optimal environmental conditions - cold and dry. See more »

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Followed by The Derby (1896) See more »

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Good Footage For Its Time
28 November 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

For its time, this is good footage of a horse race and of the crowds watching it. The film has been noticeably damaged over time, but it is still clear enough to evaluate it and to get an idea of what the original would have been like. It is one of the early efforts of R.W. Paul, one of the cinema pioneers who deserves to be a little better known. Most of his movies were fictional, and they often featured some innovative ideas. This one is footage of actual events, and it may have been influenced by Birt Acres more than by Paul, but in any case it does show some skill.

The vantage point is well chosen, with the footage of the derby taken at the kind of diagonal angle that the Lumières had shown to be so effective. As another reviewer has aptly described, it gives you precisely the perspective of someone in the crowd. In the foreground is a view of the crowd along the near side of the racecourse, and in the main part of the camera frame the horses come by, usually in twos and threes. The background shows the crowd on the far side of the course.

The level of detail decreases steadily as your eye movies from foreground to background, so that the most detailed portion is actually that of the spectators in the foreground. For much of the footage, this shows only the backs of their heads, but later you can also see their reactions after the horses have gone past. The horses are less distinct, which is too bad because they should be the main highlight, but that's the kind of thing that early film-makers would learn to improve on with experience.


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