See the moving picture

FIGURE 5.16

Continuity in Action (II)

Fire!

James Williamson, Great Britain, 1901

This five-shot film in five scenes is one of the earliest instances of an effort to construct a complex narrative out of multiple shots. In Scene/Shot 1, a policeman discovers a house on fire and, in Scene/Shot 2, alerts the Hove Fire Department (frame 1), which rushes into action (still in Scene/Shot 2) and (in Scene/Shot 3) races to the fire (2). In Scene/Shot 4, which cuts to the interior of the burning house, a man is overcome and collapses on the bed, where he’s found by a fireman who breaks through the window (3) and, in Scene/Shot 5 carries him down the ladder to safety (4,5). Recovering, the man explains that there other people in the house. They, too, are rescued (still in Scene/Shot 5), a woman having to leap from a second-story window into an outstretched sheet (6). Not surprisingly, Williamson’s Fire! was an inspiration for Edwin S. Porter’s quite similar Life of an American Fireman (1903—see Chapter 4.2).

Back to CHAPTER 5/Part 1