A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, ... See full summary »
Porter's sequential continuity editing links several shots to form a narrative of firemen responding to a house fire. They leave the station with their horse drawn pumper, arrive on the ... See full summary »
George S. Fleming,
Edwin S. Porter
James H. White
A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... See full summary »
A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why... See full summary »
Among the earliest existing films in American cinema - notable as the first film that presented a narrative story to tell - it depicts a group of cowboy outlaws who hold up a train and rob the passengers. They are then pursued by a Sheriff's posse. Several scenes have color included - all hand tinted. Written by
What can one say about an 11 minute film, which is reputed to be the first narrative motion picture to be shot in the United States? What does one compare it to when nothing had come before it? What is even more amazing is that parts of this movie are in color! The women's dresses at the dance are in color - each frame had been hand colored. The flashes from the barrels of the six shooters are red and an explosion sends up a riot of color. There is even a little girl in a red coat. Take that, Steven Spielberg!! Except for the last five seconds, all of the shots are in medium to long. The camera never moves. For each sequence, it is set in place and actors move in front of it.
It is a western, of course (shot in the wilds of New Jersey). A gang of bad guys knock out a train station clerk then board a departing train. They move to the car where there is a safe, blow the safe, stop the train and rob the passengers. Back in town, the clerk revives and tries to get help but passes out again. A little girl comes in wakes him up. The townspeople are having a dance when the clerk runs in to form a posse. The posse rides out and surrounds the gang, who is counting the loot in the woods. There is a gunfight and the robbers are killed. That is the whole story, but there is one short scene left - one of the most remarkable in film history. The all color episode lasts about 5 seconds. In medium close-up, a cowboy raises his pistol, points it directly at the camera, and fires three times. It is difficult for us to understand why this is here or what purpose it served. But when people who had never seen a movie before and didn't have any understanding of the technology first saw this man shooting at them, they screamed, fell to the floor, and ran for the door. It is also said that some in the audience pulled firearms and shot back. It is an early testament to the power that motion pictures had, even in its earliest incarnation. Thankfully, TCM ran TGTR without any modern musical accompaniment, as thousands must have seen it in the nineteen-aughts. I watched in total amazement. I was transported. Later, I reflected on how far movies had come and how little they had changed in the last 100 years. This movie is a priceless historical artifact that shows us just how much the past is still with us.
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