As a cinematographic window back to the late 19th century it's pretty amazing even if it's so brief. Fin-de-siècle intellectual climate always fascinated me and it's awesome to be able to witness photographed human movement from that era. Density and movement in the embryonic shot render this an exemplary fragment. (Too short though that defies a proper rating.)
On the one hand, not much happens beyond the train arriving. On the other hand, so much happens as you are watching the Lumieres create the language of cinema. This means that rather than reviewing a film, it is actually a question of reviewing a key moment in time. So - great moment, five stars! Full disclosure - I love trains and old films, so somehow I'm the target audience more than a century later.
Not sure what to make of this mess. One thing is certain: this so-called "cinema" is going nowhere. It's a mere gimmick. Like the panorama or the kinetoscope. Think photography, with clumsy animation. Listen up, folks, cinema is just a fad. Let's focus on "real" art: theatre, literature, you know. In five years nobody will remember this stuff.
I don't know, can I really objectively say anything? Of course, there's the "historic factor", meaning this is not just a film but a whole lot of context. I feel a bit uneasy on how much I am allowed an opinion against the sheer mass of history and if so, what I can base that opinion on. Anyway, a nice shot and a nice historical context. Am I good now?
"The film is associated with an urban legend well known in the world of cinema. The story goes that when the film was first shown, the audience was so overwhelmed by the moving image of a life-sized train coming directly at them that people screamed and ran to the back of the room."