Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who was on those train tracks?

60 Minutes recently did a special on a mysterious silent film shot in San Francisco in 1906. . The camera is positioned on the front of a tram moving down Market Street, in the broad daylight, full of men, women, children, horses, carriages, vendors, and a few cars. Some people seem aware of the camera pointing it out, or waving at it, but most people simply go about their business. A darevil darts in front of the tram on his bike. All is well.
Film historian David Kiehn has uncovered the fact that the film was shot just days before the great earthquake that struck the city. He was interviewed on 60 Minutes about his quest to find the truth, and it is quite an intriguing story. The authorship of the film belongs to the Miles Brothers, film producers who shot both this film and the subsequent films detailing the destruction of San Francisco. But authorship has little relevance when confronted with this piece of cinema. Only history.
Below is the full film taken from Youtube. Below that is the link to the 60 Minutes story. Be sure to watch the additional films of San Francisco after the earthquake and take them as part of the same, eerie piece of work. Note the similarities.