Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Discoveries - Steve Q ""

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Discoveries - Steve Q

Steve Q runs the Zero Star Cinema blog:
This was a year of watching mostly dreadful dreck I wouldn't foist on others, but I did also finish up seeing all the films in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry and my "discovery" was a comparison of two films in it.
A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (1906)
Filmed perhaps only 4 days before the earthquake that leveled the city, this is a continuous tracking shot down Market Street, done by mounting a camera on a trolley. It is remarkable in many ways (including being shot in 35mm), but perhaps most interesting for showing the near chaos of travel at the time. Several near accidents are filmed. 
The 11 minute film is available here:

Castro Street (1966)
This film by Bruce Baillie is a near-continuous tracking shot along the 800 block of Castro Street in Richmond, Califonia (not the more famous center of gay culture Castro Street in nearby San Francisco), with train yards on one side and the Standard Oil Refinery on the other (Google Maps shows the area is largely unchanged). As the shot follows a line of pipe or a track, it moves gradually from left to right, using montage and superimposition to switch what is being tracked. One side of the street appears in color, the other in black and white. Sound is mostly ambient, with some garbled music ("Good Lovin'" is intelligible). A few signs appear toward the end, including one giving the title.
The 11 minute film is here:

The two films together show the development of industry and travel, the changes in film technique and technology and how the same amount of time in nearly the same place sixty years apart can appeal to different filmmakers. It appears unlikely that Baillie was aware of the earlier film.


SteveQ said...

Thanks for cleaning up my banner image! I need to attend to that on the blog.

SteveQ said...

That video of "Castro Street" was removed from YouTube for copyright infringement. Another copy of it is up, undoubtedly briefly.