This film shows the demolition of the historic Star Theatre building (formerly Wallack's) at the corner of Broadway and 13th Street, New York. To secure this unique picture a Biograph camera was kept constantly at work by specially devised electric apparatus for weeks, during which time exposures were made every four minutes, 8 hours a day. Before the contractors began their work of tearing down and after the last vestige of the building had been removed, 15 seconds of exposure at normal speed were made. Thus in the finished positive one views at first the old Star Theatre standing as it had for years looking down with serenity upon the bustle of Broadway traffic. Then as if struck by a tornado of supernatural strength, the building begins to crumble. Chimneys totters, walls cave in, and whole stories vanish, until at last the site shows only a cellar excavation; and the Broadway cars with the sidewalk procession continue as if nothing unusual had happened. When this view is shown in ... Written by
AMB Picture Catalogue (1902)
One of the 50 films in the 4-disk boxed DVD set called "Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives. This film was preserved by the Library of Congress. This version has a piano music score and runs 96 seconds. See more »
At about the turn of the century, an old theater was being torn down. Not wanting to lose an opportunity, the film makers film it--frame by frame and piecing it together using time-lapse footage. So, you see the building going from complete to completely demolished in only about 2 minutes.
This is a highly creative film for 1901 and must have impressed audiences of the day. Sure, in today's world audiences would not be particularly impressed, as time-lapse filming is taken for granted. Still, you have to admire all the time that went into making this--it must have taken months.
If you'd like to see it, it's included in the 50 film set "Treasures From American Film Archives"--a four-DVD set of mostly ephemeral old films that would have otherwise been lost and forgotten.
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