Railways, Subways, Phantom Rides-06

A Romance of the Rail
P: Thomas Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1903

“Whether or not a showman intercut A Romance of the Rail with railroad-travel films, the conventions would have been immediatly recognized by audiences. Yet the picture differs from other such comedies because of its cultural specifity. This 275-foot, six-shot travel film lightheartedly spoofed the Lackawanna Railroad’s extensive advertising campaign, in which Phoebe Snow rode the company’s trains in a white gown. Despite the fact that the Lackawanna was known as a major coal carrier, her clothing never became soiled. Porter created a male counterpart, also dressed in white, who appears at the station and meets Phoebe Snow. They board and the train pulls out. Traveling through the Delaware Water Gap, the couple watch the scenery from the observation platform at the rear of the train: the camera is framed to present the passing scenery as much as their interaction. Romance blossoms and a minister – also in white – promptly marries them from the rear platform. Here a documentary genre is reoriented around the emerging story film.”
Charles Musser: The Emergence of Cinema. The American Screen to 1907. Berkeley-Los Angeles-London 1990, p. 351

What Happened in the Tunnel
R: Edwin S. Porter. P: Thomas Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1903

“The train was invisible and yet the landscape swept by remorselessly, and far away the bright day became a spot of darkness. That was the mouth of the tunnel, and toward it the spectator was hurled as if a fate was behind him. The spot of blackness became a canopy of gloom. The darkness closed around and the spectator was being flung through that cavern with the demoniac energy behind him. The shadows, the rush of the invisible force and the uncertainty of the issues made one instinctively hold his breath as when on the edge of a crisis that might become a catastrophe.”
Mail and Express , 21 September 1897
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley / Los Angeles / Oxford 1991, p. 262

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