Tuesday, 18 October 2011
'Fire!' is a 1901 British film directed by James Williamson, and is one of my favourite early films together with 'The ? Motorist' of 1906 (see my earlier post for my synopsis, with photographs, of that film). Filmed in Hove, near Brighton, a busy area for the early British film industry, the film starts with a policeman discovering a house on fire. Trying to alert the occupants by throwing stones at windows, he runs off to the local fire station. Alerting the fire crew, the first response is a ladder on a handcart which is quickly ran off by several firemen complete with brass helmets. They then hitch up and send a larger ladder wagon drawn by a single horse, and a steam fire engine drawn by two horses. The two horse drawn vehicles are then shown rushing down the street to the fire
Cutting back to the inside of the house, an occupant wakes up discovering the fire - attempting to put it out, he fails and throws himself onto the bed, consigning himself to his fate, at which point a heroic fireman appears at the window, cutting his way in with an axe, hosing down the fire in the room and then giving the occupant a fireman's lift out of the house and to the ground.
Another fireman rescues a baby inside, and after the ladders have been withdrawn, another occupant of the house appears at the same window the first one was rescued from. The firemen bring out what looks like a large handheld trampoline which the occupant safely jumps from the first floor window onto.