The Great Train Robbery - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Train Robbery Reviews

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March 11, 2014
A milestone in motion picture history in being among the first with a narrative structure.
February 21, 2014
The Great Train Robbery 1903 - short silent American western film - it was produced, written and directed by Edwin S. Porter. The film contains no credits at all and runs at 10-min duration minimal. Known for historically being one of the earliest filmmaking examples. Film tells the story of train-robbers who bind and gag a telegraph operator and force him to ask approaching train to stop for water-storage - as they succeed in their mission, the train is robbed at gun-points. Good short-story that reiterated the groundbreaking style of filmmaking - editing two stories taking place at different places simultaneously.
February 1, 2014
Even at the turn of the 20th century, crime doesn't pay. As straightforward as stories come, this is about a band of criminals that rob a train, and the law enforcement that pursues them. This is a short film from 1903, and something that I was able to find simply by perusing Youtube. The print that I watched had no score, which is a bit odd, given that it is (obviously) a silent film. It is a precursor to pretty much every single Western, so it is interesting to see what essentially started the genre. It is more violent than you would expect it to be, given the year it was released, and this features the classic overdramatic silent movie deaths where the person that gets shot throws their arms up over their head before falling to the ground. The thing that is most memorable is the very last scene; it features a man emptying his revolver at the camera, creating the illusion that the audience is getting shot at. It is striking, haunting, and is imagery you won't soon forget. This is pretty cool to watch, and at a ten minute runtime, you can afford to expand your film education.
January 6, 2014
Being the obviously influential and historical relic it is, The Great Train Robbery is in all it's simplicity a landmark film despite it's honky acting and long static shots.
November 9, 2013
This being the first American film to tell a story, it certainly has a place in history - however, it's brilliance is pretty much lost to a modern audience that have a hard time imagining how people in 1903 would have had their minds blown by this short feature that allowed them to see & experience something that was earth shaking.
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2013
A year after George Melies made history with his cute little sci-fi picture, American film maverick Edwin S. Porter cemented his own legacy with this breezy western action film.

Based on an 1896 story by Scott Marble ,this 1903 caper follows a group of bandits as they rob a train, make their escape, then have a confrontation with a group of local townspeople bent on vengeance. That's it.

There's more to it than that though. Yeah, it's pretty simple and straightforward, but this film pioneered a lot of now commonplace techniques like cross-cut editing, location shooting, and double exposures. And, unlike A Trip to the Moon, this one is more like real life as opposed to fantasy, and feels a tad documentary like.

This is a pretty influential and important film, and basically set the standard for the western genre especially, but also the action/heist genre as a whole. Unfortunately the version I saw had no soundtrack other than the cranking of the camera, and that's my only real complaint. Yeah, the cranking kinda fits with the movements of the train, but it gets real tedious real quick, especially since it plays for just under 12 minutes straight.

Some of the acting is over the top and hammy, and it makes things feel dated and cheesy, but it also kinda adds to the charm. It's ridiculously tame by today's standards, but I also have to give this a lot of credit for being ballsy with the violence, something that was probably rather jarring for audiences 110 years ago.

All in all, this is a fun movie. Yeah, it has since been eclipsed 1,000 times over, and, while it really deserves classic status for it's historical, social, and aesthetic merits, it also still works fine on its own terms as just a simple, entertaining movie.
August 28, 2013
A huge moment in cinematic history. Just over 10 minutes of time well worth taking.
½ August 17, 2013
Before you start complaining about my low score, I'm new to silent films. I was intrigued by silent cinema after enjoying Hugo so well, and I've watched very little silent films. I've watched Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, and it was excellent. The Great Train Robbery, on the other hand, is one of the earliest films ever released, for many at the time, it was the first film people saw. It may have been an incredible experience in its original release, but in 2013, it has dated poorly.

In The Great Train Robbery, a ten minute short film (that was the feature length of the early cinema), a group of outlaws hijack a train and go off and steal people's money. That's bascically the whole story. That's it. Simple enough, right. Even with a simple setup like thid, the film still left me extremely confused. Why did it leave me confused? Well, for one thing, the film has not aged well. The cinematography looks like it's been dunked underwater and looks very blurry. I know filmmakers didn't have too much technology in 1903, but I didn't get it.

What also didn't help was that I watched this on YouTube. YouTube features a lot of early silent films, and the quality was very poor. In its original release, there was a live music score. During film feativals, whenever someone plays an old silent film, there's a live score. On YouTube, all I got for a score was an organ making really boring sounds during an exciting train robbery. Maybe if TCM dedided to show this at a film festival, with a live film score, and I got to see it, I might enjoy it a lot more.

Despite a so-called exciting story and a very cool final shot, The Great Train Robbery was a bore. The cinematography is a confused blur, the organ score is a dud, and the film is in bad shape for a film over 100 years old. This film was made by Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. You'd think that this film would be in better shape. But time has not been too well for The Great Train Robbery and I was not too impressed.
½ July 29, 2013
Essential viewing for it's historical importance and part in developing narrative cinema, rather than for its entertainment value. This hasn't aged nearly as well as other early landmark pictures such as Trip To The Moon but spotting the camera techniques the silent short pioneered is fascinating.
July 22, 2013
"The Great Train Robbery" was the first true film. Every other motion picture released around that time, was just simple shots of trains moving down tracks, people dancing; just any random movements, really, to show that the camera could really capture movement. But "The Great Train Robbery" did so much more. It told a story. It gave the audience a real reason to be excited to view it. This is clearly the most influential film of all time, and a true piece of history.
June 28, 2013
A masterful film by Porter.
May 14, 2013
Certainly not the most made movie by today's standards, but to put into context how important this movie is to film makes it a mandatory watch by all admirers of cinema.
½ May 11, 2013
The first western and its a very visually identifiable storyline for an early silent movie.
May 9, 2013
a very big sucess for its time
½ April 29, 2013
maybe i just can't apreciate it as a door opener to film but i didn't find it amusing
April 19, 2013
The Great Train Robbery is the first true Western film. Let that sink in how far the genre has come since. Its fun and adventurous in a way, featuring revolutionary filming techniques, but its far from seamless.
March 27, 2013
Certainly mandatory viewing for all cinema enthusiast, this is one of those films that revolutionised cinema and contributed greatly to what it is now. The importance of this film is technical, with close ups and camera movements that were unusual in those early times and narrative with the choice of a clear genre, the western, the first western hero in Bronco Billy Anderson and the unusual long length that follows a train robbery from the beginning to the end. The final close up is still one of the most famous frame shots in cinema history.
March 3, 2013
Another must-watch for those into film history.
March 3, 2013
DAAAAANG! Came out before my Grandma was born
½ February 27, 2013
Another interesting, historically important, and completely overrated Porter film. Historically important because of its "parallel editing," if I remember terms of the story itself...not nearly as good as the stuff coming out of France at the same time. I can appreciate Porter's contributions to film... but I honestly think his contributions are inflated by film historians who are not comfortable giving D.W. Griffith his due.
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