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Film Editing's 100th Anniversary

NPR's Robert Siegel talks to University of Iowa film professor Rick Altman about filmmaker Edwin Porter. One hundred years ago today, Porter received the copyright on Life of an American Fireman, a film that's regarded, along with his other 1903 film The Great train Robbery, as the first to use the conceit of editing to compress time and space. Porter's pioneering work influenced all subsequent filmmakers. Altman says audiences quickly learned to follow the new way of telling stories. Editing saved the faltering movie industry, which up to Porter's work in 1903 mostly used single, uncut shots of real world events. Porter cut away from an action to show events happening at the same time elsewhere.

Copyright 2003 NPR