Produced by Thomas Edison, but directed and filmed by Edison Company employee Edwin S. Porter, The Great Train Robbery was the first narrative movie, one that told a story. It is a classic Western with four bandits who rob a train and its passengers of their valuables and then try to escape.
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Amazingly blocked still to this very day, one look at his film and it's clear that Porter must have been one of the first auteurs. His films are blocked, shot, and edited differently in comparison with the others of the time; they have a great level of detail, have intricate set design, and an unusual awareness of film formalism at a time when it was still being thought of at an alphabetical level in film grammar
The perception of Edwin S. Porter: when a passenger get out of the train and starts to run towards the camera. The purpose is simple. Porter realize that if the passenger did that run toward the camera it'll symbolize a request for the spectator's help.
Certainly hard to believe this is well over a century old. Historically speaking, there is some extremely creative editing that paces out the riveting action through expensive sets. The bizarre ending breaks the fourth wall and is the icing on the cake, proving this film was ahead of its time in almost every single way.
Groundbreaking work with tight action sequences and a great ending. Although it's difficult to wrap your head around how old this is and what the reaction of the audience was at the time, there's no doubt that the story itself (although simple) is effective when examined scene by scene. In fact, this has a lot in common with blockbuster action flicks. A historically valuable film that deserves its place in the canon.
Surprisingly nasty in its primitiveness. The earth is bare and the trees are stripped. Not a healthy film for a nation to produce, perhaps. Essential viewing after reading Frank Norris' turn-of-the-century epic 'The Octopus'. Watched with a terrific soundtrack by Andreas Brink, reminiscent of Tom Waits' 1992 album 'Bone Machine'.