The Great Train Robbery (1903 film)
The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American silent short Western film written and directed by Edwin S. Porter, a former Edison Studios cameraman. Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie, Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes. Though a Western, it was filmed in New Jersey; the film was inspired by Scott Marble's 1896 stage play, may have been inspired by a 1900 train robbery perpetrated by Butch Cassidy. At twelve minutes long, The Great Train Robbery film is considered a milestone in film making, expanding on Porter's previous work Life of an American Fireman; the film used a number of then-unconventional techniques, including composite editing, on-location shooting, frequent camera movement. The film is one of the earliest to use the technique of cross cutting, in which two scenes are shown to be occurring but in different locations; some prints were hand colored in certain scenes. Techniques used in The Great Train Robbery were inspired by those used in Frank Mottershaw's British film A Daring Daylight Burglary, released earlier in the year.
Film historians now consider The Great Train Robbery to be the first American action film and the first Western film with a "recognizable form". In 1990, The Great Train Robbery was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally or aesthetically significant"; the film opens with two bandits breaking into a railroad telegraph office, where they force the operator at gunpoint to have a train stopped and to transmit orders for the engineer to fill the locomotive's tender at the station's water tank. They knock the operator out and tie him up; as the train stops it is boarded by the bandits—now four. Two bandits kill a messenger and open a box of valuables with dynamite; the bandits force the passengers off the train and rifle them for their belongings. One passenger tries to escape but is shot down. Carrying their loot, the bandits escape in the locomotive stopping in a valley where their horses had been left. Meanwhile, back in the telegraph office, the bound operator awakens.
His daughter arrives bringing him his meal and cuts him free, restores him to consciousness by dousing him with water. There is some comic relief at a dance hall, where an Eastern stranger is forced to dance while the locals fire at his feet; the door opens and the telegraph operator rushes in to tell them of the robbery. The men form a posse, which overtakes the bandits, in a final shootout kills them all and recovers the stolen mail. An additional scene of the film presents a medium close-up of the leader of the bandits, played by Justus D. Barnes, who empties his pistol point-blank directly into the camera; the scene is not directly related to anything in the main narrative, is described as "Realism" by the accompanying letter from Edison Manufacturing. Although it is placed at the end, Porter stated that the scene could appear at the beginning of the film; the media historian James Chapman observed that the sequence may have inspired the gun barrel sequence from the James Bond films. Porter's film was shot at the Edison studios in New York City, on location in New Jersey at the South Mountain Reservation, part of the modern Essex County Park system, as well as along the Delaware and Western Railroad.
Filmed during November 1903, the picture was advertised as available for sale to distributors in December of that same year. Though shot in black and white, certain sections of print were hand-colored; the Great Train Robbery had its official debut at Huber's Museum in New York City before being exhibited at eleven theaters elsewhere in the city. In advertising for the film, Edison agents touted the film as "...absolutely the superior of any moving picture made" as well as a "...faithful imitation of the genuine'Hold Ups' made famous by various outlaw bands in the far West..."The film's budget was an estimated $150, equal to $4183 today. Upon its release, The Great Train Robbery became a massive success and is considered one of the first Western films, it is considered one of the first blockbusters and was one of the most popular films of the silent era until the release of The Birth of a Nation in 1915. The success of The Great Train Robbery inspired several similar films; the first was a remake of the same name directed by Siegmund Lubin.
It has been called the first film remake. The film inspired numerous imitators, including The Bold Bank Robbery and The Hold-Up Of The Rocky Mountain Express. Porter himself tried to re-capture his previous success with The Life of an American Cowboy and a parody of The Great Train Robbery titled The Little Train Robbery, with an all-child cast. In the 1966 Batman TV Series episode entitled "The Riddler's False Notion", silent film star Francis X. Bushman guest stars as the wealthy film collector who owns a print of The Great Train Robbery. In the last episode of season three of Breaking Bad, the closing scene is
Film studies is an academic discipline that deals with various theoretical and critical approaches to films. It is sometimes subsumed within media studies and is compared to television studies. Film studies is less concerned with advancing proficiency in film production than it is with exploring the narrative, cultural and political implications of the cinema. In searching for these social-ideological values, film studies takes a series of critical approaches for the analysis of production, theoretical framework and creation. In this sense the film studies discipline exists as one in which the teacher does not always assume the primary educator role. In studying film, possible careers include critic or production. Film theory includes the study of conflicts between the aesthetics of visual Hollywood and the textual analysis of screenplay. Overall the study of film continues to grow. Academic journals publishing film studies work include Sight & Sound, Film International, CineAction, Cinema Journal, Film Quarterly and Journal of Film and Video.
Film studies as an academic discipline emerged in the twentieth century, decades after the invention of motion pictures. Not to be confused with the technical aspects of film production, film studies exists only with the creation of film theory—which approaches film critically as an art—and the writing of film historiography; because the modern film became an invention and industry only in the late nineteenth century, a generation of film producers and directors existed before the academic analysis that followed in generations. Early film schools focused on the production and subjective critique of film rather than on the critical approaches and theory used to study academically. Since the time film was created, the concept of film studies as a whole grew to analyze the formal aspects of film as they were created. Established in 1919 the Moscow Film School was the first school in the world to focus on film. In the United States the USC School of Cinematic Arts, established in 1929, was the first cinematic based school, created in agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
They were the first to offer a major in film in 1932 but without the distinctions that are assumed in film studies. Universities began to implement different forms of cinema related curriculum without, the division between the abstract and practical approaches; the Deutsche Filmakademie Babelsberg was founded in the Third Reich in 1938. Among the lecturers were e.g. Willi Forst and Heinrich George. To complete the studies at the Academy a student was expected to create his own film. A movement away from Hollywood productions in the 1950s turned cinema into a more artistic independent endeavor, it was the creation of the auteur theory, which asserted film as the director's vision and art, that prompted film studies to become considered academically worldwide in the 1960s. In 1965, film critic Robin Wood, in his writings on Alfred Hitchcock, declared that Hitchcock's films contained the same complexities of Shakespeare's plays. Jean Luc Godard, a contributor to the influential magazine Cahiers du Cinema wrote, “Jerry Lewis...is the only one in Hollywood doing something different, the only one who isn’t falling in with the established categories, the norms, the principles....
Lewis is the only one today. With stable enrollment, proper budgets and interest in all humanities numerous universities contained the ability to offer distinct film studies programs. There were no individuals. With the success in first half of the twentieth century, prominent persons in the film industry could become an endowment source for schools focusing on film, creating the location for film studies as a discipline to form. An example is George Lucas' US$175 million donation to the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2006. Today film studies exists worldwide as a discipline with specific schools dedicated to it; the aspects of film studies have grown to encompass numerous methods for teaching history and society. Many liberal arts colleges and universities and contain courses geared toward the analysis of film. Exemplifying the increased diversity of film studies is the fact that high schools across the United States offer classes on film theory. Many programs conjoin film studies with media and television studies, taking knowledge from all parts of visual production in the approach.
With the growing technologies such as 3-D film and YouTube, films are now concretely used to teach a reflection of culture and art around the world as a primary medium. Due to the ever-growing dynamic of film studies, a wide variety of curricula have emerged for analysis of critical approaches used in film. Although each institution has the power to form the study material, students are expected to grasp a knowledge of conceptual shifts in film, a vocabulary for the analysis of film form and style, a sense of ideological dimensions of film, an awareness of extra textual domains and possible direction of film in the future. Universities offer their students a course in the field of film analysis to critically engage with the production of films which allows the students to take part in research and seminars of specialized topics to enhance their critical abilities; the curriculum of tertiary level film studies programs often
The Band Wagon
The Band Wagon is a 1953 American musical-comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. It tells the story of an aging musical star. However, the play's director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of the Faust legend and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star. Along with Singin' in the Rain, it is regarded as one of the finest of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, although it was only a modest box-office success on first release; the songs were written by the team of lyricist Howard Dietz. Some of the songs in the film had been created for the original 1931 Broadway musical by Schwartz and Dietz, called The Band Wagon, with a book by George S. Kaufman and starring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele; the movie's dances and musical numbers were staged by Michael Kidd. The song "That's Entertainment!", which Schwartz and Dietz wrote for the film, was a hit and has become a standard. Another song orchestrated by Conrad Salinger, "Dancing in the Dark", is considered part of the Great American Songbook and was from the original Broadway production.
Astaire's early number in the film, "A Shine On Your Shoes" was written for a 1932 Broadway revue with music and lyrics by Dietz and Schwartz called Flying Colors. It had been performed by the dancing team of Buddy and Vilma Ebsen. In the movie version of The Band Wagon, the song was reworked to show off Astaire's musical talents; the film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Writing and Screenplay. Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who received the nomination for the screenplay, patterned the film's characters Lester and Lily Marton after themselves, although the fictional characters were a married couple and Comden and Green were not romantically involved. In 1995, The Band Wagon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally or aesthetically significant". In 2006, this film ranked #17 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.
Tony Hunter, once a famous star of musical comedies on stage and on screen, is forgotten after three years without a movie. He returns from Hollywood to New York. At Grand Central, he is recognized but ignored by reporters who are there to see Ava Gardner, but he is greeted enthusiastically by his good friends Lester and Lily Marton, they tell him they have written a stage show, a light musical comedy, that will be a perfect comeback for Tony. They will act in it, they have caught the interest of Jeffrey Cordova, who they say can do anything: he is starring in, as well as directing, a new adaptation of Oedipus Rex that he wrote himself based on the original Greek; as soon as Jeffrey hears Lily outline the play, he declares it to be a brilliant reinterpretation of the Faust legend, which should star Tony and himself as the characters corresponding to Faust and the Devil. The Martons are delighted that he will be acting as well as directing, but Tony is dubious about the Faust idea. Jeffrey declares that the boundaries between genres in the theater are artificial, "Bill Shakespeare" and Bill Robinson are all parts of the same whole—to prove his point, he leads the four in singing That's Entertainment!
Tony signs on, Jeffrey has the Martons rewrite the play as a dark, pretentious musical drama. Jeffrey does succeed in arranging for the beautiful and talented ballerina Gabrielle "Gaby" Gerard to join the production, along with Paul Byrd, her boyfriend and manager—even though he has always insisted that a musical play would be beneath her; when Tony and Gaby meet, they become sarcastic and hostile to each other, but this is because they are insecure: each of them feels much less talented than the other. It all proves too much for Tony, he walks out. Gaby follows. In his hotel room, she comments that the paintings by famous artists on the wall are better reproductions than usual in a hotel, she recognizes a painting of ballerinas as an early Degas. Tony and Gaby put their troubles aside, go for a horse-drawn carriage ride, dance together, realize they can work together after all, they begin to fall in love. When the first out-of-town tryout in New Haven proves disastrous, Tony demands that Jeffrey convert the production back into the light comedy that the Martons had envisioned.
Jeffrey says that while they will have to find new backers since the original ones have walked out, he will be happy to appear in that show—if Tony is in charge of it. Tony accepts by selling his art collection. Paul says the show is no longer suitable for Gaby and walks out, expecting her to follow, but she is now pleased to stay and work with Tony. After some weeks on tour to perfect the new lighthearted musical numbers, the revised show proves to be a hit on its Broadway opening. Afterwards and Tony kiss in front of the entire cast and crew, the finale is a reprise of That's Entertainment! Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter Cyd Charisse as Gabrielle Gerard Oscar Levant as Lester Marton Nanette Fabray as Lily Marton Jack Buchanan as
Elephant (2003 film)
Elephant is a 2003 American drama film written and edited by Gus Van Sant. It takes place in the fictional Watt High School, in the suburbs of Portland and chronicles the events surrounding a school shooting, based in part on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre; the film begins a short time before the shooting occurs, following the lives of several characters both in and out of school, who are unaware of what is about to unfold. The film stars new or non-professional actors, including John Robinson, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen. Elephant is the second film in Van Sant's "Death Trilogy"—the first is Gerry and the third Last Days —all three of which are based on actual events. Elephant was praised by critics and received the Palme d'Or at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, in which Patrice Chéreau was the head of the jury; the film was controversial for its subject matter and allegations of influence on the Red Lake shootings. Mr. McFarland is driving erratically down a residential street on the way to drop off his son John.
John notices damage to the car and realizes that his father is drunk, so John instructs him to move to the passenger seat and let him drive. Alex and Eric are bullied at school by the so-called jocks, one of whom diverts a teacher and throws a spitball at Alex during science class. Alex and Eric are shown at home ordering weapons from a website and receiving a rifle in the mail. While Alex is taking a shower, Eric gets in with him, he claims that he has never been kissed, the two kiss. The two formulate an attack plan; the next day and Eric prepare for the shooting make their way to school in silence in Alex's car. After arriving at school and Eric encounter John outside and tell him to leave, as some "heavy shit's about to go down". Realizing what is about to happen, John attempts to warn others not to enter the school, to mixed effect as a few students listen to him but others, as well as a teacher, do not and enter into the building, he tries to find an adult to get help from but cannot. The two gunmen enter the school, after their plans to blow up parts of the school with propane bombs fail, begin shooting indiscriminately.
A friendly student named Elias photographs them entering the library where they open fire, shooting several students, including a bespectacled outcast named Michelle and Elias. Realizing that the gunfire is real, students now begin to panic, while teachers attempt to evacuate the building, he falls to the ground dead as his teacher walks over and calmly says, "damn, they shot em." As this is taking place, an African-American student named Benny silently walks the halls and helps some students escape to safety with aplomb while nearing Alex. John's father shows up and can offer no consolation to his devastated son as they see the school burning and hear gunshots and screams; the two boys separate. Alex enters the bathroom where three popular girls named Brittany and Nicole are shooting all three; the school principal, Mr. Luce, cornered by Eric in a hallway, begs Eric to lower his weapon and talk to him, but Eric yells, "I ain't putting shit down!" and fires at him. He does speak to Mr. Luce, however.
Eric turns back to Luce and warns him to take heed of what's happened from bullied students and lets Mr. Luce go, before smiling evilly and changing his mind by firing several shots down the hall that strike and kill the principal. Alex enters the cafeteria, strewn with overturned chairs, several dead bodies, numerous abandoned half-eaten lunches, sits down. Alex casually drinks from it. Eric meets up with him, they have a brief conversation, which ends when Alex shoots Eric in mid-sentence. Alex leaves the cafeteria, showing no emotion over shooting Eric, discovers Carrie and Nathan in a freezer, he tauntingly recites "Eeny, miny, moe" to them to decide whom he should kill first. The film cuts to credits leaving the ending ambiguous. Alex Frost as Alex, the more intelligent of the two killers, implied to be the one in charge, he is sketch artist. He and Eric kiss before the massacre. Eric Deulen as Eric, a slacker, Alex's friend, the other killer, he is less intelligent than Alex, Alex is aware of this.
He is shot in the chest by Alex near the end of the film, while talking about whom he had killed earlier. John Robinson as John McFarland, Alex's friend who has trouble at school while managing his alcoholic father. Alex warns him to stay away from the massacre. Timothy Bottoms as John's alcoholic father. Matt Malloy as Mr. Luce, the principal of the school. Cornered by Eric, who spares him, he is presumed dead after being shot several times. Elias McConnell as Elias, a photography student building his portfolio with portraits of other students. Nathan Tyson and Carrie Finklea as Nathan and Carrie, a popular lifeguard/football player and his girlfriend. Alex taunts them with Eeny, miny, moe. Kristen Hicks as Michelle, a nerdy girl ashamed of her body; the film follows her into the library where she assists. She is the first to die during the massacre. Brittany Mountain, Jordan Taylor, Nicole George as Brittany and Nicole, three bulimic girls who talk incessantly, gripe about parents, squabble with one another.
Bennie Dixon as Benny, an athletic student who helps Acadia escape out of
Gus Van Sant
Gus Green Van Sant Jr. is an American film director, painter, photographer and author who has earned acclaim as both an independent and mainstream filmmaker. His films deal with themes of marginalized subcultures, in particular homosexuality. Van Sant's early career was devoted to directing television commercials in the Pacific Northwest, he made his feature-length cinematic directorial debut with Mala Noche. His second feature Drugstore Cowboy was acclaimed, earned Van Sant screenwriting awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle and the award for Best Director from the National Society of Film Critics, his following film, My Own Private Idaho, was praised, as was the black comedy To Die For, the drama Good Will Hunting, the biographical film Milk. In 2003, Van Sant's film about the Columbine High School massacre, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Van Sant received the festival's Best Director Award that same year, making him one of only two filmmakers—the other being Joel Coen—to win both accolades at the festival in the same year.
Though most of Van Sant's other films received favourable reviews, such as Finding Forrester and Paranoid Park, some of his efforts, such as the art house production Last Days and the environmental drama Promised Land, have received more mixed reviews from critics, while his adaptation of Tom Robbins's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, his 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, The Sea of Trees, were critical and commercial failures. In addition to directing, Van Sant has written the screenplays for several of his earlier works, is the author of a novel entitled Pink. A book of his photography, called 108 Portraits, has been published, he has released two musical albums, he is gay and lives in Los Feliz, California. Van Sant was born and raised in Louisville, the son of Betty and Gus Green Van Sant Sr; as a result of his father's job, the family moved continually during Van Sant's childhood. His paternal family is of partial Dutch origin; the earliest Van Zandt arrived in the New Netherland area in the early 17th century, around what is now New York City.
Van Sant is an alumnus of Darien High School in Darien and The Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon. One constant in the director's early years was his interest in visual arts. Van Sant's artistic leanings took him to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970, where his introduction to various avant-garde directors inspired him to change his major from painting to cinema. After spending time in Europe, Van Sant went to Los Angeles in 1976, he secured a job as a production assistant to filmmaker Ken Shapiro, with whom he developed a few ideas, none of which came to fruition. In 1981, Van Sant made Alice in Hollywood, a film about a naïve young actress who goes to Hollywood and abandons her ideals, it was never released. During this period, Van Sant began to spend time observing the denizens of the more down-and-out sections of Hollywood Boulevard, he became fascinated by the existence of this marginalized section of L. A.'s population in context with the more ordinary, prosperous world that surrounded them.
Van Sant would focus his work on those existing on society's fringes, making his feature film directorial debut Mala Noche. It was made, he saved $20,000 during his tenure there, enabling him to finance the majority of his tale of doomed love between a gay liquor store clerk and a Mexican immigrant. The film, taken from Portland street writer Walt Curtis' semi-autobiographical novella, featured some of the director's hallmarks, notably an unfulfilled romanticism, a dry sense of the absurd, the refusal to treat homosexuality as something deserving of judgment. Unlike many gay filmmakers, Van Sant—who had long been gay—declined to use same-sex relationships as fodder for overtly political statements, although such relationships would appear in his films. Shot in black-and-white, the film earned Van Sant overnight acclaim on the festival circuit, with the Los Angeles Times naming it the year's best independent film; the film's success attracted Hollywood interest, Van Sant was courted by Universal.
Van Sant moved back to Portland, where he set up house and began giving life to the ideas rejected by Universal. He directed Drugstore Cowboy about four drug addicts; the film revived the career of Matt Dillon. Drugstore Cowboy's exploration of the lives of those living on society's outer fringes, as well as its Portland setting, were mirrored in Van Sant's next effort, the acclaimed My Own Private Idaho (1
Modern Times (film)
Modern Times is a 1936 American comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization; the movie stars Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford and Chester Conklin. Modern Times was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress in 1989, selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Fourteen years it was screened "out of competition" at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Modern Times portrays Chaplin in his Tramp persona as a factory worker employed on an assembly line. There, he is subjected to such indignities as being force-fed by a malfunctioning "feeding machine" and an accelerating assembly line where he screws nuts at an ever-increasing rate onto pieces of machinery.
He suffers a nervous breakdown and runs amok. He is sent to a hospital. Following his recovery, the now unemployed factory worker is mistakenly arrested as an instigator in a Communist demonstration. In jail, he accidentally ingests smuggled cocaine. In his subsequent delirium, he avoids being put back in his cell; when he returns, he knocks the convicts unconscious. He is hailed as given special treatment; when he is informed that he will soon be released due to his heroic actions, he argues unsuccessfully that he prefers it in jail. Outside of jail, he leaves after causing an accident, he runs into a orphaned barefoot girl, fleeing the police after stealing a loaf of bread. Determined to go back to jail and to save the girl, he tells police that he is the thief and ought to be arrested. A witness reveals his deception and he is freed. To get arrested again, he eats an enormous amount of food at a cafeteria without paying, he meets up with Ellen in a paddy wagon, which crashes, she convinces him to escape with her.
Dreaming of a better life, he gets a job as a night watchman at a department store, sneaks Ellen into the store, encounters three burglars: one of whom is "Big Bill", a fellow worker from the factory at the beginning of the film, who explains that they are hungry and desperate. After sharing drinks with them, he wakes up the next morning during opening hours and is arrested once more. Ten days Ellen takes him to a new home – a run-down shack that she admits "isn't Buckingham Palace" but will do; the next morning, the factory worker reads about an old factory re-opening and lands a job there as a mechanic's assistant. His boss accidentally falls into the machinery; the other workers decide to go on strike. Outside, the worker is arrested again. Two weeks he is released and learns that Ellen is a café dancer, she gets him a job as a waiter, where he goes about his duties rather clumsily. During his floor show, he loses his cuffs, which bear the lyrics to his song, but he rescues the act by improvising the lyrics using gibberish from multiple languages, plus some pantomiming.
His act proves a hit. When police arrive to arrest Ellen for her earlier escape, the two flee again. Ellen despairs that there's no point to their struggling, but the factory worker assures her that they'll make it somehow. At a bright dawn, they walk down the road towards an hopeful future. During a European tour promoting City Lights, Chaplin got the inspiration for Modern Times from both the lamentable conditions of the continent through the Great Depression, along with a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi in which they discussed modern technology. Chaplin did not understand why Gandhi opposed it, though he granted that "machinery with only consideration of profit" had put people out of work and ruined lives. Chaplin began preparing the film in 1934 as his first "talkie", went as far as writing a dialogue script and experimenting with some sound scenes. However, he soon abandoned these attempts and reverted to a silent format with synchronized sound effects and sparse dialogue; the dialogue experiments confirmed his long-standing conviction that the universal appeal of his "Little Tramp" character would be lost if the character spoke on screen.
Most of the film was shot at "silent speed", 18 frames per second, which when projected at "sound speed", 24 frames per second, made the slapstick action appear more frenetic. The duration of filming was long for the time, beginning on October 11, 1934, ending on August 30, 1935; the reference to drugs seen in the prison sequence is somewhat daring for the time. According to the official documents, the music score was composed by Chaplin himself, arranged with the assistance of Alfred Newman, who had collaborated with Chaplin on the music score of his previous film City Lights. Newman and Chaplin had a falling out near the end of the Modern Times soundtrack recording sessions, leading to Newman's angry departure; the romance theme was given lyrics, became the pop standard "Smile", first recorded by Nat King Cole. Modern Times was the first film where Chaplin's voice is heard as he performs Léo Daniderff's comical song "Je cherche après Titine". Chaplin's version is known as "The Nonsense Song", as his character sings it in gibberish.