Edwin S Porter's contribution to the history of the movies is enormous. At a time when most film-makers were content with crude one-take shorts of straightforward dramatic design, Porter was already experimenting with editing his stories to include different points of view and various trick special effects which he may have learned from Méliès. His Western The Great Train Robbery
(1902) set the stamp on what was to become Hollywood's greatest genre, and was the most popular film until The Birth of a Nation
(1915), directed by DW Griffith, an actor who was given his first movie break by Porter. Musser's enchanting piece of movie archaeology traces the life of this key figure, with plenty of clips from his greatest hits, a commentary from Blanche Sweet (the Griffith star), and just the right note of amused genuflection to a master. Also included, complete, are four of Porter's short films. CPea.