Little Train Robbery (1905)
This seems like a pretty appropriate movie to discuss, as Edison studios shifts from the “Age of Attractions” to the “Nickelodeon Era.” I have read that the very first movie shown at a Nickelodeon was “The Great Train Robbery,” and that in itself speaks to how the shift from spectacle to normalized entertainment was brought about, in part, due to the filmmaking advances of Edwin S. Porter. That movie was such a tremendous hit that it made sense, only two years later to send it up in this parody/homage/remake. This version shows the original film reenacted by children. It’s not (quite) a shot-for-shot remake, but it would definitely be recognizable to fans of the original. I actually think Porter improved on some technical aspects, such as the pan which follows the train as it approaches the ambush. As I’ve made some comments about gender in recent reviews, it’s worth noting for this one that the gang is led by the “Bandit Queen,” one of the only girls we can see clearly in this production (the others are among the victims on the Little Train). Although the boys clearly respect her authority, she does not take part in any of the physical acts of the robbery. She is also set free at the end, the one member of the gang to get away.
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Run Time: 10 Min, 30 seconds
You can watch it for free: here.