A stationary camera captures the hustle and bustle of Manhattan on Broadway at Union Square in Greenwich Village. As streetcars pass with rapid regularity, two police officers make sure ...
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In commedia dell'arte style, an actor on a stool presents six distinct characters through speedy application of whiskers and a hat or, in one case, a wig followed by a few gestures. First ... See full summary »
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 »
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 »
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 stationary camera looks across Burgundy's River Sâone toward a small military encampment. Four horsemen enter the water in the foreground, each riding his horse as it swims across toward ... See full summary »
Auguste Lumière directs four workers in the demolition of an old wall at the Lumière factory. One worker is pressing the wall inwards with a jackscrew, while another is pushing it with a ... See full summary »
A stationary camera, looking diagonally across a racetrack toward the infield, records the horses as they race past. Once they are out of view and the race is over, police officers run onto... See full summary »
A photographer has his camera all set up to take a gentleman's picture. The subject checks his face in a hand mirror, and the photographer poses him. Just as the photographer is about to ... See full summary »
A stationary camera captures the hustle and bustle of Manhattan on Broadway at Union Square in Greenwich Village. As streetcars pass with rapid regularity, two police officers make sure that pedestrians who are crossing the street do so safely. Horse-drawn carriages pass as well. The men wear hats and ties; the lads wear caps; the women are in long skirts. Written by
In this approximately 35-second long Lumière Brothers short (Lumière No. 328), the camera is placed at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street--the southeast corner of New York City's Union Square/Union Square Park. You can see the Lincoln Building prominently in the top center portion of the screen (1 Union Square W.), which had just been built 6 years before, and new construction just to the left of that. Policemen direct pedestrian and streetcar traffic along the roads, and we see a number of horse-drawn carts and carriages go down 14th Street.
The first thing that struck me as unusual about this short is how nonchalantly, even haphazardly, the three policemen are directing traffic. They seem to be somewhat arbitrarily waving everyone on, pedestrians and streetcars alike, in a manner that reminds me of the way you used to be waved into Mexico from the United States by the Mexican border guards. It's quite funny. Of course, the streetcars aren't traveling as quickly as cars do today (and that corner tends to have cars speeding by to catch the traffic light), but still everyone seems to be standing dangerously close to the tracks. I suppose this changed after a few severed feet.
As I've pointed out in my comments about a number of other Lumière Brothers shorts, we again have a visual composition of "obliques and processionals", designed to maximize the novelty of the then new medium of motion pictures. The obliques are provided by the streetcars rounding the corner at Broadway, and most of the motion in the shot is a processional.
Among the elements that are fascinating to note historically, aside from those already mentioned, such as the streetcars, are the clothing, which tends to look very formal and dour compared to today, the newspaper boy who lingers in the foreground, often staring at the camera, and the final streetcar that passes--which is designated as a "Smoking Car". I was surprised to see the separate facility for smokers this far back in time.
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