Shooting the Chutes (1896)
The Edison company was a bit of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to making Actuality films. The Lumiére Brothers had gotten in ahead of them in 1895, and when W.K.L. Dickson defected to help form the Biograph Company in 1896, he started making them as well. Edison got into the game in the Summer, with movies such as this one, shot at Coney Island. It’s worth remembering that the Edison motion picture camera was a very bulky, desk-like apparatus, that hadn’t been designed with mobility in mind. Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine that audiences were especially thrilled with this movie, which shows a ride that would probably be identified as a “water flume” today. At the opening of the picture, a single pod shoots past us – not especially quickly – and for the rest of the running time we watch another slowly ascend. Next to it is another track, which seems to life some sort of hay ride up and lower it at the same ponderous speed. Flags flutter in the wind, so at least there is some movement.
Director: James H. White
Camera: William Heise
Run Time: 40 seconds
You can watch it for free: here.