Leaving Jerusalem by Rail

A train pulls away from a station in Jerusalem. French. Original title: Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer

It moves!—the camera, that is, mounted on the back of a train, looking off to the left. As it does, people fade into the distance and new ones come into view, the lush (a rare adjective for a Lumière film) landscape rolls gently by. This type of train-mounted “phantom ride” would soon become popular, or perhaps it already was; I don’t know if this was the first one, but I doubt it. What was once interesting and exotic because of place is now twice as interesting because of place and time. Not only does the camera show us Jerusalem, it shows us Jerusalem in the nineteenth century. The same camera that transported audiences in 1896 across continents, transports us, its further audience, across a century, too.

Louis Lumière, 1896

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