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jaragon

Cinema as Time Machine

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This is really extraordinary. I wish more footage from that era were speed corrected because it makes so much difference in the viewing experience. It was fascinating to see streetcars sharing the streets with what seemed to be an equal number of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages; obviously it was the transition point.

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There is another similar film that was shot in San Francisco a few days before the earthquake

 

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Yes, I know that one. Right now I'm watching 'Edweard Mybridge, Zooxographer' which similarly has fantastic shots of early 'Cisco. 'Daguerrotypes' and 'rotogravures'.

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As a historian (& horse owner) film like that is priceless. I love seeing kids walk right through the "road apples" these days kids won't even shovel up after their horse. "Eww"

Films also really illustrate social mores of their times, a real window into our cultural past. I love that a film made within my lifetime, GUESS WHOS COMING TO DINNER? is already a head scratcher for this upcoming generation.

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Okay well I had one good experience and one bad experience this week. The documentary on Eadweard Muybridge was fine (made 1975 or so). I found it interesting while watching it and saw it through in two sittings.

A fine documentary; exemplary in pacing and narration and music. Quite a few memorable images --probably of very particular interest to animal lovers. Some stunning nature photography, some unusual factoids learned, and overall edifying.

I'm glad I watched it. Been looking for short films lately for brief bits of relaxation.

2

For the same motive, I tried watching 'Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son' (1969) which is many times less interesting than the flick on Muybridge. Yet it is six times the length. Classic case of a fun idea ruined by over-indulgence and overzealousness. Ken Jacobs, (director) rescued a crumbling print of an ancient DW Griffith short film made in 1905 and wants to 'investigate' and 'explore' it.

But, he really doesn't. He has no secret to unearth from the film...really what secret is there to unearth? Its a simplistic nursery rhyme story about a bunch of townspeople scurrying around a flimsy looking stage-set chasing after a naughty boy who has stolen a pig while they watched some jugglers. Its not as if there's drugs or **** going on. So it quickly becomes apparent that Jacobs is just using this silly footage as the basis to show off some basic in-camera and in-darkroom editing techniques.

The stuff he shows, well....any student in an 8mm or 16mm film class might do the same. I've attended such classes and seen the same kind of experimentation. But Jacobs wants to display this to us for over two hours?? Awk. I bailed after 15 mins.

Maybe I was gypped--the version I endured had no sound track. Sound might have helped.

Otherwise, I must rank it as one of the worst experimental film ideas ever; and I'm a big fan of experimental shorts so I am mighty dismayed to have to levy such a judgment. The flick simply needs a point and a purpose.

Score: 1-1

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DougieB said:

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It was fascinating to see streetcars sharing the streets with what seemed to be an equal number of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages; obviously it was the transition point.

We'd still have streetcars in New York City today if it hadnt been for a really insidious and underhanded 'hostile takeover' of public transportation systems by the combined forces of bus companies, tire companies, the very powerful lobby of the concrete industry, land developers, and the home-construction industry. All of these entities consciously joined together to kill the very efficient trolley systems in US cities and encourage people to purchase cars and look for single-family houses in then-just-burgeoning suburbia.

Later on, some of these same forces came into play to push the issue even further and bring about the decline of the train industry in favor of interstate highways and personal automobile ownership.

Its one of the biggest tragedies in this country's history.

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On ‎1‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 11:21 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

DougieB said:

We'd still have streetcars in New York City today if it hadnt been for a really insidious and underhanded 'hostile takeover' of public transportation systems by the combined forces of bus companies, tire companies, the very powerful lobby of the concrete industry, land developers, and the home-construction industry. All of these entities consciously joined together to kill the very efficient trolley systems in US cities and encourage people to purchase cars and look for single-family houses in then-just-burgeoning suburbia.

Later on, some of these same forces came into play to push the issue even further and bring about the decline of the train industry in favor of interstate highways and personal automobile ownership.

Its one of the biggest tragedies in this country's history.

The subplot in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) involved a criminal scheme to dismantle/phase out the streetcar system in Los Angeles in the 1940's. I totally agree that the disappearance of streetcars makes most cities that much less "user-friendly" for visitors and residents both.

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Well said. Yeah, its a disaster. 'Trolley' cities are not only more environmentally-kinder to the landscape (as opposed to suburban sprawl and car culture)....trolleys encourage the superbly democratic "mixed-use dwellings" that you often see in 1940s and 1930s movies. That is, families living above storefronts. Such was the arrangement that made early New York so bustling and multicultural and energetic and splendid.

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Whatever Buster Keaton movie it was which featured him as a streetcar business entrepreneur, (or 'trying to save his prospective father-in-law's streetcar business'), is also an awesome look at this great (but vanished) transportation modality. Was it called 'Speedy'? I saw it on the big screen and enjoyed it, but am now unsure of the title.

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