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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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Fascinating & Beautiful
4 March 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This has some of the most fascinating and beautiful footage of any of the very earliest movies. The resourceful camera idea works out very well, and the setting could hardly have been more interesting. The blend of images and ideas in this short feature has rarely been matched in such a short running time. It's well worth watching a number of times, in order to appreciate all of the details.

Even aside from the subject being filmed, the film is quite resourceful in producing a reversed form of the "phantom rides" that were one of the staples of the very earliest years of motion pictures. The effect is convincing, making the viewers feel very much as if they were on board the train as it pulls away. Moreover, the camera field is set up perfectly, so as to catch plenty of action in the foreground and plenty of detail in the background. Cinematography doesn't get a lot better, in any era.

Even this display of skill might be eclipsed by the material itself. It's fascinating to see this view of Jerusalem, its inhabitants, and its scenery, and it's very fortunate that this footage preserves something of the Jerusalem of its era. The simple view of people from so many different cultures and of so many different personalities, all in one place, creates an atmosphere much quicker than words could have done. Then there is the background view of some of the ruins of old Jerusalem, plus a view of some newer structures. It all speaks eloquently of the history and humanity that is part of the city.

"Leaving Jerusalem By Railway" is one of the very best of the pioneering films from the mid-1890s. The combination of technical skill and imagination plus the fascinating material make it one of the movies of its time most worth watching and remembering.


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