Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Life of an American Fireman (1903)

(Original Film Doesn't Have Audio)

Life of an American Fireman is a short film created by Edwin Porter, and was one of the first ever American films that contained a narrative. The narrative is short and sweet: we see a fire break out and watch the firemen race to the scene and save a mother and her child from the burning building.

I really enjoyed watching this film, I noticed that, as researched, it used a lot of long takes of long shots, which in this sense was effective (and at this point, the main way cinema was presented to the audience at this time).

Edwin Porter created this film by building a narrative over only seven scenes, which have been created by only using nine shots altogether:

1. A Fireman sat in a chair, having a vision of the woman & child in the building.
2. The Close Up shot of the Fire Alarm box, as the man opens it and sets it off. 
(NOTE: this is the ONLY Close up in the entire film!)

3. The inside of the sleeping room (?) where the fireman are (Wake up & go down pole)
4. The interior of the fire station - preparing and getting ready to leave

5. The horses/firemen and equipment leaving the station
6. The journey to the origin of the fire.
7. Arriving at the fire and rescuing the mother and child

At the time this was created, the editing style of the film was quite unusual, as it was one of the very first experiments with 'cross-cutting' - where we see the fireman within the house rescuing the woman and after, see the same event but outside of the building. (shown below)

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