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Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer (1897)

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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A visceral experience
27 February 2003 | by (Houston, Texas) – See all my reviews

With the success of the Cinematograph exhibitions in Paris during December 1895 and extending into 1896, the Lumieres made decisions on how to handle the future of the device. Jules Carpentier, the Paris-based engineer who had made 25 of the machines for Louis Lumiere during 1895, was now commissioned to manufacture two-hundred more. No machine would be sold. The Lumieres would train cameramen/projectionists at their Lyon, France headquarters and send them around the world to capture views (soon to be called "actualities") that would be sent back to France for processing and then distributed for exhibition. Exhibitors were franchised by the Lumiere company but were required to use Lumiere employees, who were Lumiere-trained projectionists, for all their presentations.

It was under the above arrangement, that a Lumiere cameraman arrived in Jerusalem during 1896. One film that he made had to have a profound effect on the audience of that day. People who had never been more than a few miles from home could be in Jerusalem and for one minute, actually see their departure from that holy city in that holy land.

We are standing on the observation platform, on the rear car of a train, for our last look at Jerusalem which is seen only through our eyes. Men are standing on the tracks looking at us. In the background are what appears to be stone ruins in an arid area. Abruptly, the train moves away from this scene and the view widens as the men appear to wave good-bye. As massive stone walls come into view, we realize there is a train station platform. We glide past the crowd in front of the station; there to bid us farewell. Christians, Jews or Muslims can relate to the people on the platform; seemingly wistful at our departure. There is a visceral appeal of being in a wonderful place and leaving it with sadness. Forty-four seconds after the start, the screen goes blank.

This type of picture, where the viewer is propelled through a scene by an unseen force, would be used (during the next few years) by a large number of cinematographers and would be called a "phantom ride."


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