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Leaving Jerusalem by Railway (1897)

Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer (original title)
A train, with a camera mounted near the front, pulls out of the Jerusalem station. It passes groups, first of Europeans, then Palestinian Arabs, then Palestinian Jews. Dress, hats, and ... See full summary »

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A train, with a camera mounted near the front, pulls out of the Jerusalem station. It passes groups, first of Europeans, then Palestinian Arabs, then Palestinian Jews. Dress, hats, and facial hair are each distinctive group to group. Except for the station itself, the buildings visible in the background are ruins - no more than crumbling walls. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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railway station | See All (1) »

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Documentary | Short

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1897 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Juna lähtee Jerusalemista  »

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One shot, many layers.
13 September 2000 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

A camera attached to a train pulls out of a station in Jerusalem, watched by genial onlookers. If one's mind and imagination are open, the effect is thrilling, taking to its logical conclusion movement within a static frame, and also reversing the experience of 'Arrivee d'un train'; now the audience is no longer frightened by an oncoming threat, a passive victim to a locomotive object, but part of that movement, with the camera transporting us from reality, from the stable and still, a transport the cinema has made its raison d'etre.

The film is cherisable for other reasons - the smiles of the observers left behind; for the complex interplay of gazing this prompts - with whom do we identify, the looker or the thing looked at: we share properties with both; the beautiful gliding movement which does not mirror any experience I've ever had on a train, that transport medium on its way out as cinema begins its conquest.

Most moving of all is the vision of late-19th century Jerusalem that rises miraculously from the reassuringly familiar station, vast ruins which are not as other ruins, but seem like petrified tears, as with the trees in 'Sleepy Hollow' or 'Saddle the Wind'. This view of a city, already weighed down with history and contention, yet untainted by the blight of the 20th century, is breathtaking, and a little humbling.


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