April 1, 1899 [Firemen Rescuing Men and Women]
So I will not fault this little film for its artificiality, the stagy puffs of smoke and the firemen's unhurried portage of the "victims"; still, an actual fire—the Windsor Hotel in New York—smolders behind this recreation, and one is perhaps relieved to see how efficiently the firemen work. But the fire itself remains in the distance, and we are allowed to suspend our moral sensibilities to enjoy the artifice, even less dangerous than the miniature blazes I kindled and watched so merrily as a boy. And although I remember one or two tongues of flame that threatened to slip from our control, the almost-danger only added to the excitement. This is a lesson the cinema is learning: The actual and the artificial must hone as closely to one another as possible, infusing the coolly observed moment with enough panic to keep one's gaze level and wide, as much an avid maker as a detached observer.