Seminal Image #648


The Musketeers of Pig Alley
(D.W. Griffith; 1912)

(extravagant thanks to the inimitable Jeff Duncanson for this here image)

5 comments:

Vanwall said...

One of the greatest images from film, IMHO, regardless of genre and year. The sequence itself takes on greater significance with every passing year - it was one helluva shoot.

Jeff Duncanson said...

Yes, it is. I wonder (and perhaps Tom would know), if this is the earliest use of the close-up shot in cinema history? In any case, looking back at these shorts really points up what a visionary Griffith was.

PS - It's neat seeing Harry Caray as a bit player. (He's the guy in the background)

Tom Sutpen said...

I could be wrong, but I think it was the first instance where a face got in that close to the lens (I know Griffith used a quite similar shot in an earlier film whose name escapes me, but that was a more conventional closeup; not as startling in its menace as this one), but depending on your definition of a close-up . . to me it's any shot where the camera is close enough that facial features are clearly discernible to even those most distant from the screen . . . there'd been numerous examples prior to 1912; probably the most famous being 'Broncho Billy' Anderson's at the conclusion of Porter's The Great Train Robbery (Kevin Brownlow and David Gill's series on Griffith even shows a close-up of the man himself in a film from his time as an actor at American Biograph).

But like I said . . . I could be wrong.

Vanwall said...

This is one of the great meldings of art and film, a brilliant, deliberate artistic compostion that must've seemed like night and day to any critical eye back then, at least I hope so - film wasn't seen as a serious art form very much back then, I gather. In only a spare, quarter of an hour's running time, the real birth of film-noir, the flair for defining a kind of social realism, acting that was light-years ahead, the first conscious artistic use of the close-up, appear ALL IN ONE SHORT FILM, and all done with visionary eyes - Loos and Bitzer had a hand in this, remember, and it shows - not to mention a crackerjack cast. Nothing like it before or since.

rfkeser said...
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