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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Prospector" is a film that is very difficult to watch today. Part
of it is that most of the final minute of this 8 minute film is
completely degraded--and you can only see the right and left edges of
the picture! Part of it also is that in order to shove the film into
only 8 minutes, the plot was sped up so much that it really made no
sense. Stretching the film out a bit would have really helped.
A prospector seeks shelter on his way to bring his ore to be assayed. However, the two men that offer him a bed let their greed get the best of them and they try to rob the guy. But, the daughter discovers their plan and intervenes and goodness prevails. In a WEIRD twist, the minute she intervenes, the prospector (who doesn't even know her) proposes marriage and they run off, with the little sister, to get married! Even crazier is when the pair return a bit later and propose to let the two crooks join them in running the mine. None of this makes a lot of sense and it's way too rushed. Even for an early silent, this one is lacking.
This routine western from 1912 -- Essannay was co-founded by "Broncho
Billy" Anderson who played six roles in Porter's THE GREAT TRAIN
ROBBERY and figured out that what people wanted was westerns and was he
ever right! -- concerns a prospector who strikes a rich claim and is
almost killed for it. He is saved by his would-be killer's
grand-daughter, marries her and shares his wealth with him, which makes
him a better person.
It sounds trivial, and by the standards of the era, it probably was. Essannay alone turned out over 70 westerns in 1912. But the movie is interesting because it shows how modern film grammar was beginning to gel. The acting is still very broad; the compositions that bespeak the stage with its proscenium arch clearly marking the limit of reality, so prominent in 1908, are vanished in just four years; and the story, although a tad slow, is interesting.
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