Porter and Griffith: The Early Social Drama

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
R: Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1903

The Ex-Convict
R: Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1904

The Kleptomaniac
R: Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1905

“Historians since Terry Ramsaye have remarked on Porter’s articulation of social problems in The Ex- Convict and The Kleptomaniac (January 1905). These two features were part of a larger group of films, made between November 1904 and December 1905, that directly and indirectly confronted significant social issues in American life. Despite a shift away from actualities, Porter continued to conceive of cinema as a form that could inform and instruct as well as entertain. His films were still linked, albeit less directly, to the concept of a visual newspaper, for he focused on problems raised in the antitrust editorials and political cartoons of the New York Journal-American and the New York World . These pictures, which represented one of several ideological positions evident in American popular and mass culture, were the most ambitious cinematic expressions from this period.
Although several Porter/Edison films, if viewed separately, are ideologically consistent with then emerging trends of Progressive thought, as a body of work they express the often contradictory worldview of the old middle class and small-town America confronted with an era of large-scale manufacturing and monopoly capital. In short, these films remained consistent with Porter’s own experience of America while growing up in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and with a viewpoint expressed twenty years earlier in his hometown newspaper, ‘The Keystone Courier’.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company.Berkeley / Los Angeles / Oxford 1991, p. 292

What Shall We Do With Our Old?
R: David Wark Griffith. D: W. Chrystie Miller. P: Biograph. USA 1911

TRAUM UND EXZESS, S. 136 und S. 218 f.