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 film in which limbless Nikolai Kobelkoff demonstrates a series of tasks, from aiming a pistol to performing gymnastics. Kobelkoff was born without arms and legs but persevered, becoming an international star in the early 20th century as a "Human Torso".
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.
Vue prise d'une baleinière en marche
Sailors row a whaling boat in a medium-tight shot.
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.
Scenes on Mr. Smit's Ostrich Farm
Scenes on an ostrich farm, filmed in Natal during the Boer War.
An Exciting Pillow Fight
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.
Panorama of the Moving Boardwalk
An early short with a self-explanatory title.
Panoramic View of the Place de la Concorde
Taken from an automobile. This picture was taken during the fashionable driving hour, making a complete circle of the Place de la Concorde, passing hundreds of carriages and busses. The beginning of the picture shows the historical church of the Madeleine in the background, the picture ending by approaching and running under the main entrance to the Paris Exposition.
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.
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."
Panoramic View of the Champs Elysees
Filmed in July 1900, on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France.
Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Palace
The single camera position is from the top of a building identified as the Trocadero Palace; The camera is pointed toward the Eiffel Tower. The film shows only up to the first arch of the Eiffel Tower.
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.
Spiders on a Web
Consisting of a single shot, Spiders on a Web is one of the earliest British examples of close-up natural history photography. Made by one of the pioneers of the British film industry, G.A. Smith, this short film details spiders trapped in an enclosure, and despite the title, does not actually feature a web.
Exploding a Whitehead Torpedo
The title pretty much tells you all there is to know about this Edison film. It runs a very brief 27-seconds and shows a torpedo hitting its target and going off. I think the most fascinating thing about this is that we get a pretty close shot of the explosion and its aftermath. It was rather funny seeing this large explosion and especially seeing how long it took for everything that flew up in the air to land back down.
Warships, UK and Germany
Warships at Sunset
A single shot of a fleet of warships at sea, with a sunset sky superimposed from another sequence to complete the effect.
Queen Victoria's Visit to Dublin
Queen Victoria's Last Visit to Ireland
"This is the last ceremonious public appearance of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. The picture was taken in Phoenix Park, Dublin, April 4th, 1900, and shows the Queen in an open carriage, being cheered by thousands of people, as she passes through an arch of welcome."
Battleship 'Odin' with All Her Guns in Action
This British Bioscope short from 1900 is a crackerjack piece, on an order with 1903's FIREBOAT 'NEW YORKER' ANSWERING AN ALARM. It's little more than a perfectly framed picture of the Odin slowly leaving harbor, with all her guns ablaze in the roiling clouds and flashes of cordite.
Surrender of Kroonstad to Lord Roberts
Cavalry cross the river in enormous number. Occasionally a horse stops to take a drink, and then walks on.
Four Warships in Rough Seas
Film produced by William K. Dickson’s British Mutoscope and Biograph Company.
Burning of the Standard Oil Co.'s Tanks, Bayonne, N.J.
Panorama of East Galveston
It's what it says on the label: a panoramic shot of East Galveston, right after the Storm of the Century came through, ripping up trees and destroying house like they were made of cards. Then, a decade and a half later came another Storm of the Century for Galveston.
Skating on Lake, Central Park
Photographed February 5, 1900.
Mitchell & Kenyon.
Ekoin Natsu-basho Ozumo
A former carpenter who became one of the first cameramen in Japanese cinema history, Tsuchiya Tsuneji travelled to North America to help in the construction of a Japanese garden and tea house at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. After learning film techniques on how to operate a camera and develop film in December 1898 he returned to Japan carrying an Urban Bioscope camera (both a projector and camera). Taking inspiration from boxing match film actualities popular in the United States he conceived the idea of filming sumo wrestlers at the Ryogoku Ekoin. This resulted in his first film Ekoin Natsu-basho Ozumo.
Battleship Odin Firing All Her Guns
Film produced by William K. Dickson’s British Mutoscope and Biograph Company.
Train Load of C.I.V.s Leaving Southampton
Back in Blighty - after fighting in the Boer War, these volunteer soldiers are heading home to London and Middlesex
Manila Colonial Scenes
At the turn of the 20th century, the streets of Manila are filled with horse-drawn carriages, people in white European dresses, and wedding parties coming out of the church. Behind the civilized face of the fin-de-siècle, however, lie the dictates of a colonizing power that has conquered a third world country.
Tram Journey through Southampton
A moving tour through lively turn-of-the-century Southampton.
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