Directed by Edwin S. Porter and J. Searle Dawley
Note: This synopsis is based upon a video copy of a gorgeous 35mm print circulated by the Museum of Modern Art, included in Volume 3 of the Kino Video Edison – the Invention of the Movies. Versions on YouTube are heavily pruned and in one case re-edited with nonsensical reverse-printed sections. The cast features D. W. Griffith as the heroic woodsman in his first known involvement with movies.
1. OUTSIDE CABIN – The woodsman emerges from cabin doorway on left, takes up his axe, bids farewell to his wife who emerges holding their baby, waves goodbye as he exits right; they wave after him. (24 seconds at a projection speed of 18 frames per second)
2. WOODS – The father fells a tree with two other workers and a supervisor. (48)
3. OUTSIDE CABIN (same as 1)– An eagle soars by overhead as the baby plays with a drum. The eagle swoops down, grabs the baby in its talons and flies off. (18)
4. EAGLE FLYING OVER LANDSCAPE – The eagle, flapping its wings slowly, in the center of the frame, carries the crying baby. (15)
5. OUTSIDE CABIN (same as 1) – The mother emerges, frantically looks about, points up toward the right, grabs her rifle and aims, but then drops it, runs back in the cabin for her hat, then runs off to the right. (26)
6. WOODS (same as shot 2) – The men saw and fell another tree. The wife runs in, gesturing frantically. Three more men run in and they all run off. (35)
7. ROCKY HILL – All run forward one at a time down a path, with the wife behind. (43)
8. ANOTHER SECTION OF WOODS – The men run forward, stop as father gestures to right, then resume running to front right, wife following. (21)
9. WOODS LOOKING OUT OVER CLIFF AT REAR – The men hold the father's legs as he looks over the ledge, then secure him with a rope, lower him over the edge and begin paying out the rope. (52)
10. REVERSE SHOT OF CLIFF – The father starts to be lowered from the ledge to a landing then continues further down side of mountain (CAMERA TILTS DOWN). (36)
11. LEDGE – The father is lowered onto the ledge, checks the baby at the left, wrestles with the eagle that comes in from the right, finally bludgeons the eagle and kicks it off the ledge, picks up his baby, gestures up and is hoisted up by the rope until nearly out of the top of the frame. (90)
12. WOODS LOOKING OUT OVER CLIFF AT REAR (same as scene 10) – The men pull on the rope, one bends over cliff edge to retrieve baby and hands it to the mother; father is hoisted up, collapses with exhaustion, is assisted toward mother and baby, surrounded by men waving their hats. (38)
Copyright 2009 by Peter Gutmann
copyright © 1998-2009 Peter Gutmann. All rights reserved.