See the moving  
Picture

Figure 7.16

The Commercial Option

A Romance of the Rail

Edwin S. Porter, Edison Manufacturing Co., USA, 1903

While dramas such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903—see Figure B4.13 and Figure 7.15) and Kit Carson (Wallace McCutcheon, Biograph, 1903) counted on the familiarity of American audiences with their background stories, Edison’s A Romance of the Rail depended on even more specific cultural awareness: combining the generic appeals of the fiction film and the travelogue, Romance is also a mild spoof of a well-known advertising campaign in which the Lackawanna Railroad—principally a coal carrier—featured an actress riding the rails comfortably in a spotless white dress. Porter also added a boyfriend and a minister—both in white—and a wedding scene to various views of passing landscape shots as if glimpsed from a moving train.

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