Essay on The Great Train Robbery 1903 - Essay Prowess

Essay on The Great Train Robbery 1903

Essay on The Great Train Robbery 1903


Impact or effect

The most remarkable but unfortunately observation in this film is the shooting of one of the passengers. The robbers has ordered all the passengers in the train to alight in order for them to manage to steal their money. They ordered them to make a straight lie and ordered them to surrender the extra money that they had been left with after paying the train fare. Apparently, one passenger decided to run away, and this stimulated the robbers to shoot him. The shooting was impacted by the decision of the passenger to run away in order to not to surrender his money to the robbers (The videoceller n.p). Additionally, the robbers also decided to shoot the middle aged man due to their greed for free money. Moreover, the shooting was done primarily to scare any other passenger who was contemplating a similar decision of running away. By shooting the middle aged man, the robbers managed to institute fear to the rest of the passengers, and this enabled them to implement their mission with ease.

Message or intent

The main message in this film is that security of citizens and their assets should not be under-estimated in every situation, including the rail security. In this film, the train had been operating consistently and without any loss or issue for 125 years (Adrian n.p). For this reason, no one ever suspected that there was a risk of train robbery, and this left the citizens, railway operators and the UK government with a false sense of security that no one can dare attempt to choreograph such a great robbery. Based on the facts behind this robbery, it is estimated that the amount of money that the robbers stole was equivalent to approximately £43 million today (Adrian n.p). Based on the fact that the train had previously operated for 125 years without any case of robbery, the aforementioned amount was being carried in three sacks in an unguarded compartment rather than in a safe. The propagators of this robbery must have been perfectly investigated the leniency of security in this train, and this enabled them to plan and successfully implement their mission in the cold light of the day. Regardless of the rail security at the time, it would have been safer to transport money worth more than £40 million in a locked and a guarded manner.


The film, to a large extent, embraces the aspect of cutting between two locations with the use of visual match in order to show that one event is happening after the other. For example, in shot seven, the train is seen moving on the railway lines towards the camera, while in the eighth shot, the train is moving in the same direction and angle to the camera. This idea demonstrates how editing of the film is being altered so as to form a linear narrative, which would be unique to the viewers of the time. Additionally, the film also demonstrates the creation of a parallel narrative. For example, the film starts in a telegraph office where two masked robbers gaggled and ties the worker or train attendant and proceeds from this scene up to shot ten, when the audience are moved back to the telegraph office with the worker still tied on the floor (The videoceller n.p). Despite the set up between these two shots being the same, it is evident that the events between these two shots are happening at the same time. Additionally, at the start of this film, the robbers are slow in action, and this is due to the immediate situation which calls for slow movements in order to prevent their intentions of conducting the robbery from being noticed at this early stage. Apparently, immediately after conducting the robbery, the robbers can be seen running down the valley as the situation so demands.

Mise en scene

The action of each scene is narrated with only one shot. Apparently, majority of the shots are static, long, and confines the narrative to the perspective of the camera at eye level (The videoceller n.p). Moreover, instead of moving or rotating the camera at angles, the excitement and tension in each scene is achieved by moving the players. Precisely, the location of the camera does not change in every scene.


In this film, there are numerous images that are conveyed to the audience. For example, the trees symbolizes forest or bushes. The bandits escaped in a valley that has a high concentration of trees, and this symbolizes a forest, since in such a place they cannot easily be seen (The videoceller n.p). Additionally, the bandits escaped with horses, and this symbolizes the fastest mean of transport at that time that most of the individuals could have afforded.


The script is good and this is due to a myriad of reasons. For example, the plot progression is in a narrative manner and this ensures that the viewers are not left hanging. In addition, the film leaves the viewers with no any instance of speculations especially due to the use of parallel editing technique. For example, in scene one, the telegraph operating is beaten and tied up and the film proceeds to the other scenes (The videoceller n.p). If the film could have ended this way, the viewers could have been left speculating or wandering about the fate of the telegraph attendant. Apparently, in scene ten, viewers are returned back to scene one in order for them to know the fate of the attendant.

Historic value

The great train robbery film had a great importance in the history of filmmaking. To start with, the film encompasses various innovative techniques, where most of them were used for the first time in this film. Examples of these innovative techniques were limited to the minor camera movement, less stage-bound camera placement, location shooting and parallel editing (The videoceller n.p). For example, the cross-cuts or the jump-cuts was a new but sophisticated editing technique that allowed separate lines of actions that were happening simultaneously but in different situations to be shown. 


The film was influenced by a stage play that was produced by Scott Marble in 1896 (Michael 51). Scott gave this story but later, it was deemed necessary to bring the play to life in a manner that the audience had never experienced before. Additionally, the title of the film was similar to the popular contemporary stage melodrama. Consecutively, the film was also influenced by another train robbery that was choreographed by Butch Cassidy in 1900.


The entertainment value of this film is fantastic. From this film, I have learnt the importance of using innovative techniques such as parallel editing in order to enhance the entertainment value of a film. For example, in situations where actions of two scenes are happening at the same time and in different situations. A good example is the actions of scene one and scene ten.

Works Cited

Adrian Reed. Project Lessons from the Great Train Robbery. Posted on 7th November, 2012. Accessed from,

Michael Crichton. The Great Train Robbery. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 2012 Print.

The videoceller. The Great Train Robbery (1903). Accessed from,

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