DE PETROLEUMBRAND TE VLISSINGEN: EEN OVERZICHT VAN DER RUÏNE
F.: H.J.W. van Luijnen. Prod.: Kinematograaf Pathé Frères 35mm. L.: 11 m (frammento). D.: 1’ a 16 f/s.Tinted.
One dark day in 1917 explosions ripped through several oil tanks in Vlissingen resulting in a devastating fire. H.J.W. van Luijinen, a staff cameraman with the pioneering Dutch newsreel group Pathé Courant, was on hand to witness the disaster unfold. The fragment is less than one minute long, but it represents one of the most extraordinary fire scenes in silent film history. For most of the precious minute the screen is almost totally filled with fire and smoke – and, thanks to some artful orange tinting, appears to be extremely realistic in a slightly surreal way. But it’s the opening shot which is most brilliant. Perfectly composed like a classic landscape photo, we see the inferno raging in the background, and there, at the bottom in the foreground, we notice the small silhouetted figure of a man holding a shovel. Seeing the man in perspective like that makes us realise just how immense this fire is which Mr. van Luijinen caught on his camera.