Best Documentary Movies of 1900
Scene from the Elevator Ascending Eiffel Tower
“A marvelously clear picture taken from the top of the elevator of the Eiffel Tower during going up and coming down of the car. This wonderful tower is 1,000 feet in height, and the picture produces a most sensational effect. As the camera leaves the ground and rises to the top of the tower, the enormous white city opens out to the view of the astonished spectator. Arriving at the top of the tower, a bird's eye view of the Exposition looking toward the Trocadero, and also toward the Palace of Electricity, is made, and the camera begins its descent. The entire trip is shown on a 200-foot film. 30.00. We furnish the ascent in 125 foot film.” (Edison film catalog)
A one minute short in which limbless Nikolai Kobelkoff demonstrates a series of seemingly mundane tasks.
A Storm at Sea
While our photographers were crossing the Atlantic Ocean a most wonderful and sensational picture was secured, showing a storm at sea. The picture was secured by lashing the camera to the after bridge of the Kaiserine Maria Theresa, of the North German Lloyd Line, during one of its roughest voyages. The most wonderful storm picture ever photographed. Taken at great risk. (Edison Films, 1901)
Panorama of Eiffel Tower
“Showing the entire height of this wonderful structure from the base of the dome and return, with the great Paris Exposition in the background, looking down Champs de Mars. A most realistic picture.” According to Edison film historian Charles Musser, this film features the first camera tilt among the company's surviving oeuvre.
Palace of Electricity
A panoramic shot, making a full circle, at the 1900 Paris Exposition. It begins and ends looking at the front of the Palace of Electricity. As it pans, first we see a workman hosing down the promenade. Men and women walk past, all wearing hats. We see the base of the Eiffel Tower, which the Palace faces. A couple strolls. A mother and daughter walk passed, father is slightly ahead wearing a boater. Three men in uniform walk toward the camera as it comes to a stop facing the Palace.
The magic of a real solar eclipse filmed on 28 May, 1900 by a famous magician, Nevil Maskelyne, while on an expedition by The British Astronomical Association to North Carolina. In 1898 he travelled to India to photograph an eclipse. He succeeded but the film can was stolen on his return journey home.
Panorama of Place de l'Opéra
James White, the Edison Company's main filmmaker at the time, realized a burst of creativity during his visit to the 1900 Paris Exposition. It's uncertain who his cameraman was for this journey, but historian Charles Musser suggests that it might've been Alfred C. Abadie. In their Paris Exposition films, they introduced tilting (see 'Panorama of Eiffel Tower') and, although panning and panoramas had already been around for a while, they introduced some novel functions for them.
Panorama of the Moving Boardwalk
An early short with a self-explanatory title.
Skating in Central Park
An interesting view of Central Park before there was a skyline of buildings. All along the length of the park on both sides and to the north, with the exception of the Dakota Apartments located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, It was virtually impossible to see anything other than sky above the trees. In the nineteenth century when people went to visit the park, they really were leaving the "city."
With a crowded arena in the background, a stationary camera records a bull charging a picador astride his horse. An attendant on foot throws stones at the rump of the horse to get it to move. Various toreadors run past the bull to try to get him to charge or at least run about.