Fire! (1901)    3 Stars


Fire (1901)

Director: James Williamson


This is quite an ambitious film for 1901, and it’s clear that a lot of thought and attention to detail has gone into its’ making. It’s very similar – for obvious reasons – to Edwin S. Porter’s Life of an American Fireman, but was actually made two years earlier. Strange then that Porter’s opus receives such attention from film historians while James Williamson’s more impressive and exciting effort seems to be held in much less regard.

Some of the scenes of the fire are particularly impressive and excitingly staged – especially the sequence when the fireman hacks his way into the victim’s bedroom which is clearly genuinely ablaze (well, the curtains, anyway). It has to be said, though, that the film plays its strongest hand too early as nothing that follows matches the power of this scene. Definitely worth a look though…

(Reviewed 29th June 2009)