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American Falls from Above, American Side (1896)

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The camera shows a view of the American Falls and Goat Island.

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Title: American Falls from Above, American Side (1896)

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From a vantage point a little above Niagara Falls, the camera shows a view of the American Falls, with Goat Island in the background. In the foreground, two men watch the falls from an observation point, while a third man is busy setting up a camera. Written by Snow Leopard

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niagara falls

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Documentary | Short

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12 December 1896 (USA)  »

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Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

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Interesting Footage
12 August 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This Edison Company footage taken from the American side of Niagara Falls is interesting, in itself and in comparison with the Lumière footage taken not long afterwards. The earliest film-makers found Niagara Falls to be a very tempting subject, and many different attempts were made to capture the beauty and power of the falls. Unfortunately, not many of these attempts survive to be viewed today.

In this feature, the vantage point provides a clear view of the American Falls, with Goat Island in the background. It's not quite as close as Lumière's camera was able to get, and so it doesn't create quite as powerful of an effect, but the view is good in itself. Still photographs of the falls are often beautiful in themselves, but only a moving picture can really convey the force of the water as it rushes by and pours over the edge.

The foreground also has an interesting detail that the Lumière footage does not have. While both show some spectators watching the falls from an observation point, this Edison feature also manages to catch someone else in the act of setting up a camera. The print is not quite clear enough now to tell exactly what kind of camera it is, leaving it an intriguing, if minor, mystery.

The Lumière footage "Niagara" creates a more powerful effect, but this footage of the falls is also worth seeing, and it has interesting aspects of its own.


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