PICTURING A METROPOLIS II: TRICKS OF THE TRADE (1901-1905)

by AMERICAN MUTOSCOPE & BIOGRAPH CO. & EDISON MANUFACTURING CO.
1901-1905 / 35mm / b&w / sound / 1S / 16' 10

- Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theatre 1901, 3:40 minutes
- Coney Island at Night 1905, 3:18 minutes
- Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street 1905, 5:37 minutes
Seeing New York by Yacht 1903, 3:19 minutes

“The early “straight” views of New York were embellished with many astonishing film experiments. These fantastic visions of the city were shaped by manipulating filmmaking techniques towards the expressive possibilities of the medium.” —Bruce Posner

“Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theatre” 1901, 3:40 minutes
by Frederick S. Armitage for American Mutoscope and Biograph Co.

“The demolition of the Star Theater at Thirteenth Street and Broadway was filmed in time-lapse from Biograph’s office across the street. Exposures were made every four minutes during daylight using a specially devised electrical apparatus. Audiences particularly enjoyed it when the film was reversed, showing the building rising from destruction.” —Paul Spehr

“Coney Island at Night” 1905, 3:18 minutes
by Edwin S. Porter for Edison Manufacturing Co.

“Early film productions were normally made in bright sunlight. After 1900 the emulsions improved, making it possible to film at night. By 1905 Edwin Porter had perfected a time-exposure technique to record the spectacular display of illumination at Luna Park and Dreamland.” —Paul Spehr

“Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street” 1905, 5:37 minutes
by G. W. “Billy” Bitzer for American Mutoscope and Biograph Co.

“Filming just seven months after the New York subway system opened, cameraman Bitzer captures a unique tracking shot with lights provided by another train running on parallel tracks in tandem with the photographed train. The startling variations within a predetermined form make this work a fascinating predecessor of structural films.” —R. Bruce Elder

“Seeing New York by Yacht” 1903, 3:19 minutes
by Frederick S. Armitage and A. E. Weed for American Mutoscope and Biograph Co.

“Genuinely avant-garde, this film was made on consecutive days with Down the Hudson, with vastly different results. Manhattan appears from a moving boat, but the time-lapse mechanism misregistered, creating a fuzzy, impressionistic effect. Add in the stuttering pixilation and this incredible voyage anticipates underground cinema works of the 1960s–1970s.” —Bruce Posner

Courtesy:
Paper Print Collection, Library of Congress
Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1893-1941

1 PRINT IN DISTRIBUTION


distribution format Digital file on server (NTSC)
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 29,976 fps
sound sound
rental fee 48,30 €