- While in modern films the camera moves as needed to make a scene effective, early cinema Westerns employed only stationary cameras. Hollywood culture considered a mobile camera as artsy and European. Thus, even the battle scenes in an epic feature like James Cruze’sThe Covered Wagon(1923) appear more like still photography than dynamic action scenes. John Ford was one of the first directors to take the camera off its stand. In The Iron Horse (1924), Ford mounted the camera on the front of the locomotive, allowing it to film varying sets of riders simultaneously as the train moved forward rapidly. The effect was to produce real action as it happens rather than as it might have happened.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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