Edwin S. Porter - The Great Train Robbery (1903), 3/10

Significant for its debated place in history as the first Western, The Great Train Robbery is surprisingly engaging despite its extremely simple narrative and relative lack of depth. There is a sense of adventure, some moments of comedy, and a parting shot that combine to counter the simple, dated, and laughable techniques used in the film. Considering it was regarded for its narrative complexity is quite interesting, as the events presented are linear and elementary, soon to be expanded upon exponentially by the next decade. Still, the novelty provided is substantial and noteworthy, making it entertaining and effective as an experience. The narrative flow of the film works well, along with its genuineness in setting and costume, despite some of the amateurish acting. This is a film that works as a historical relic rather than a quality movie, yet it is still overshadowed by the films of Georges Méliès from this era in presentation, style, and storytelling. Watch for its place in cinematic history, not for a great standalone experience, and Porter’s film offers an entertaining window into the artform’s early years.