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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Landmarks of Early Film, Volume 1
 
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Landmarks of
Early Film

Volume 1
(1894-1913)
 

Contents: The Barbershop (1894), Cock Fight (1894), Glenroy Bros. (Comic Boxing) (1894), Sandow (1894), Arrivée d’un train en gare á la Ciotat [The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat] (1895), L’arroseur arrosé [The Sprinkler Sprinkled] (1895) [first version], [Childish Quarrel] [The Babies’ Quarrel] (1895), Démolition d’un mur [Demolition of a Wall] (1895), [Lion, London Zoological Gardens] (1895), Partie d'écarté [Card Party] (1895), Le repas de bébé [The Baby's Meal] (1895), A Rough Sea at Dover (1895), La sortie des ouvriers de l'usine Lumière [Leaving the Factory] (1895) [third version], Chapeaux à transformations [Transformation by Hats] (1895), Basse-cour [Poultry-Yard] (1896), Carmaux, défournage du coke [Carmaux: Drawing Out the Coke] (1896), Dragons traversant la Sâone à la nage [Dragoons Crossing the Sâone] (1896), Feeding the Doves (1896), The May Irwin Kiss [The Kiss] (1896), New York, Broadway et Union Square [New York: Broadway and Union Square] (1896), Serpentine Dance (circa 1896), Bataille de neige [Snowball Fight] (1897), Seminary Girls (1897), Pack Train on the Chilkoot Pass (1901), Le voyage dans la lune [A Trip to the Moon] (1902), The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903), The Great Train Robbery (1903), Sky Scrapers of New York, from the North River (1903), I.B. Dam and the Whole Dam Family (1905), Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906), San Francisco: Aftermath of Earthquake (1906), [The Policemen’s Little Run] (1907), Le scarab’ee d’or [The Golden Beetle] (1907), [The Dog and His Various Merits] (1908), Nerone [Nero; or, The Fall of Rome] (1909), [Aeroplane Flight and Wreck (piloted by M. Cody)] (1910), Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics (1911), The Girl and Her Trust (1912) and Bangville Police (1913).

This first of two abbreviated compilations culled from the 1994 five-videocassette collection The Movies Begin released by Kino International is a quick but disjointed history lesson for film buffs.

Presented in roughly chronological order, much of the first hour of this DVD compilation are early films by the Edison studio, the Société Lumière and Pathé Frères, with a nod to Méliès and Biograph. This volume along with the Landmarks of Early Film, Volume 2 and The Lumière Brothers' First Films (both on DVD) make excellent overviews of the first 15 years or so of motion picture production in the United States and Europe. — Carl Bennett

1998 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Landmarks of Early Film (1894-1913), black & white and hand-tinted color, 117 minutes total, not rated,
including The Barbershop (1894), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Cock Fight (1894), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Glenroy Bros. (Comic Boxing) (1894), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Sandow (1894), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Arrivée d’un train en gare á la Ciotat [The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, L’arroseur arrosé [The Sprinkler Sprinkled] (1895) [first version], black & white, ? minutes, not rated, [Childish Quarrel] [The Babies’ Quarrel] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Démolition d’un mur [Demolition of a Wall] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, [Lion, London Zoological Gardens] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Partie d'écarté [Card Party] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Le repas de bébé [The Baby's Meal] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, A Rough Sea at Dover (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, La sortie des ouvriers de l'usine Lumière [Leaving the Factory] (1895) [third version], black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Chapeaux à transformations [Transformation by Hats] (1895), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Basse-cour [Poultry-Yard] (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Carmaux, défournage du coke [Carmaux: Drawing Out the Coke] (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Dragons traversant la Sâone à la nage [Dragoons Crossing the Sâone] (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Feeding the Doves (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The May Irwin Kiss [The Kiss] (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, New York, Broadway et Union Square [New York: Broadway and Union Square] (1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Serpentine Dance (circa 1896), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Bataille de neige [Snowball Fight] (1897), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Seminary Girls (1897), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Pack Train on the Chilkoot Pass (1901), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Le voyage dans la lune [A Trip to the Moon] (1902), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The Great Train Robbery (1903), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Sky Scrapers of New York, from the North River (1903), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, I.B. Dam and the Whole Dam Family (1905), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, San Francisco: Aftermath of Earthquake (1906), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, [The Policemen’s Little Run] (1907), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Le scarab’ee d’or [The Golden Beetle] (1907), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, [The Dog and His Various Merits] (1908), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Nerone [Nero; or, The Fall of Rome] (1909), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, [Aeroplane Flight and Wreck (piloted by M. Cody)] (1910), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics (1911), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The Girl and Her Trust (1912), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, and Bangville Police (1913), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID4103DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-41032-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 40 chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $29.99.
DVD release date: 21 July 1998.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 8 / additional content: 7 / overall: 8.

Many of the films in this collection have been transferred to video from 35mm original prints (with a couple apparently taken from Library of Congress paper prints). The clarity on some of the films is striking. Only Pack Train on Chilkoot Pass (1898) is of questionable quality (and historic value).

Of note among these early films are The May Irwin Kiss [The Kiss] (1896), Sandow (1894), Le repas de bébé [Baby’s Lunch] (1895), L’arroseur arrosé [The Sprinkler Sprinkled] (1895), Partie d’écarté [Card Party] (1895), Major McKinley at Home (1896) and San Francisco: Aftermath of an Earthquake (1906).

Georges Méliès Le voyage dans la lune (1902) [also known as A Trip to the Moon] is well represented here in a high-quality version, with description and clarification of the action by a French accented narrator.

Edwin S. Porter’s pivotal short film The Great Train Robbery (1903) has also been included. This was certainly not the first realistic narrative film but it was certainly the coalescence of a series of filmmaking techniques that helped propel the motion picture industry into its next major phase of development.

It needs to be noted that the film included in this collection as The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog (1905) is not the Edison original, but rather the Lubin Manufacturing Company remake I.B. Dam and the Whole Dam Family (1905).

A special attraction is Segundo de Chomon’s film The Golden Beetle (1907), with its hand-tinting done in the Pathé stencil process. Also from Pathé is The Policemen’s Little Run (1907). It is a chase comedy of the run-of-the-mill sort that audiences must have been getting tired of after the initiation of the genre with Edison’s Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (1905). A group of comical policemen chase a dog that has stolen some meat. Audiences will sit up and take notice when the dog and police scale a building wall. The building exterior was painted onto the film studio floor and a camera mounted at the studio ceiling shooting downward tracks with the actors as they ‘climb’ the wall (on their hands and knees).

The most popular European comedian of his time, Frenchman Max Linder, is represented in his Pathé comedy Troubles of a Grasswidower (1912). It is easy to see why Linder was popular, as his charming performance here remains funny and inventive today.

Nero; or, The Fall of Rome (1909) represents Italian epic filmmaking in its advanced infancy. The story of Nero, Poppea and Octavia (with the burning of Rome happening offscreen) is told in one green and red tinted reel. Of note are the richly detailed sets and large number of extras. The film ends abruptly (probably due to film decomposition) with Nero’s decision to commit suicide.

The disc is wrapped up by two representations of the next phase of film development, the maturation of storytelling technique. D.W. Griffith’s The Girl and Her Trust (1912) and Mack Sennett’s comedy Bangville Police (1913) are representative examples of cross-cutting editing techniques used to elevate and extend dramatic tension.

The collection as a whole covers too much historical ground ultimately to be a satisfying retrospective of what are three distinct phases in the evolution of filmmaking. However, as a historical document the DVD represents a fine collection of well-preserved individual silent era short films.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other EARLY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Other MAX LINDER films available on home video.

Other GEORGES MÉLIÈS films available on home video.

Other FRENCH FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Other KEYSTONE comedy films available on home video.

Other SHORT COMEDY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Other SHORT DRAMA FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
Comparison of Winsor McCay and His Moving Comics (1911) [also known as Little Nemo] on Landmarks of Early Film, Volume 1 and on Animation Legend: Winsor McCay.
 
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