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Panorama of Place de l'Opéra (1900)




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Documentary | Short




Release Date:

August 1900 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Circular Panoramic View of Place de l'Opéra  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Roaming Camera
19 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

James White, the Edison Company's main filmmaker at the time, realized a burst of creativity during his visit to the 1900 Paris Exposition. It's uncertain who his cameraman was for this journey, but historian Charles Musser suggests that it might've been Alfred C. Abadie. In their Paris Exposition films, they introduced tilting (see "Panorama of Eiffel Tower") and, although panning and panoramas had already been around for a while, they introduced some novel functions for them. In a couple of them, White also employed some interesting editing transitions. These films may not seem of much interest to today's viewers, but they were quite innovative for their time.

I especially like this one, "Panorama of Place de l'Opéra", because the filmmakers involve the camera to make it seem almost as though it were someone's point of view, or as if the camera were even a character. Moreover, there's the sense that the filmmaker is further involved in the process; his presence is made known. Half of this film, which is barely more than a minute long, is simply a panorama, and the second part is a stationary shot. The film's subject is a traffic scene outside the Place de L'Opera in Paris. Yet, the panning shot is used to follow, first, a carriage and then, as soon as the carriage speeds away, a bus. The camera then abandons the bus and the panorama entirely for the stationary framing. Having seen quite a few early panorama films, as well as traffic scenes, this one stands out to me for its usage as a tracking shot of its subjects and, perhaps consequently, its steady, fluid motion. The camera roams.

This film is also of interest today as a glimpse at the beginning of the 20th Century in Paris, with the outfits of the time and horse-drawn vehicles.

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