THE PRUSSIAN SPY (1908, United States)
directed by: D.W. Griffith


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Submitted by Yuri Tsivian on 2011-06-11

Yuri Tsivian's comment:
taped from the paper print at NYU at 24 fps.
Flash title indicating letter insert not counted as shot


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Author: Yuri Tsivian Date: 2011-06-11

Tom Gunning in DWG and the Origins of Amer Narr Film:

“The Prussian Spy … is a good example of this uneven development in articulation. The first shot of the film lasts an agonizing ninety-nine feet (16 mm), more than half the length of the entire film. An enormous amount of information is contained in this shot, with characters entering, exiting and reentering. A spy (Owen Moore) is concealed in a closet by his lover (Marion Leonard); the concealment is discovered by a French officer (Harry Solter). To torment the woman and destroy his enemy, the officer tacks a target onto the closet door, claiming he must practice his aim with his pistol. All of this takes place in a single shot. … However, as soon as a parallel editing schema can be introduced, the film alters radically. The second half of the film fragments into ten shots. The woman has sent her maid (Florence Lawrence) to open a trap door above the closet and help the spy escape. The sequence alternates dramatically between the trap door and the parlor containing the closet. Griffith repeatedly interrupts action with a cut on gesture (the French officer aiming his pistol at the targeted door), switching to the progress of the maid as she pries the trap door open and attempts to get the spy out of danger.” (GUNNING 1991, 198)

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