Saturday, April 5, 2008

2. The Great Train Robbery - 1903

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Synopsis: Some bandits rob a train. They receive their come uppance.

Review: This is the first western depending on how technical you want to get. It doesn't look like the west (filmed in New Jersey and Delaware) and where this takes place is never stated. Everyone looks like typical Hollywood western people though if you discount the dwarf from Don't Look Now three quarters through the movie.

This movie is decent at best. The narrative structure is stronger than A Trip To The Moon, but everything else is lacking. The sets, other than the location shots, aren't any better than a high school production. The editing is done only to differentiate scenes as each shot is a different scene.

I do really like the death of the passenger. I can practically hear him say, "Curse you...dang varmints...gurgle." Every time a man falls off a roof into a water trough or a man pinwheels to death in a western since 1903, thank/blame this movie.

The famous shot, pictured above, supposedly caused some viewers to believe a man was actually firing a gun into theatres. This begs two questions:

  1. What were they thinking the entire time the train robbery was happening?
  2. What did people think when they saw A Trip To The Moon?

While this isn't impressive anymore, it's influential and important. It's only 12 minutes and public domain. Watch it here.

Score: 6/10

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