Words tunneling through the dark. Then light, with the tall figures of the no longer dead. Then dark.

At http://www.loc.gov/item/00694394, annotators have been employed by the Library of Congress to research and write this history.

The camera platform was on the front of a New York subway train following another train on the same track. Lighting is provided by a specially constructed work car on a parallel track. At the time of filming, the subway was only seven months old, having opened on October 27, 1904. The ride begins at 14th Street (Union Square) following the route of today’s east side IRT, and ends at the old Grand Central Station, built by Cornelius Vanderbuilt in 1869. The Grand Central Station in use today was not completed until 1913.

On the camera platform rode a voyager: Thomas Edison’s cinematographer W. G. “Billy” Bitzer. The date of his voyage was May 21, 1905. About the digitized restoration of his camera’s record now visible at

employees of the Internet Movie Database have written a supplementary history. Reading it as testimony in advance, we suspend disbelief and begin thinking that we are about to see, in good verbal faith, this.

One of the 50 films in the 4-disk boxed DVD set called “Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)”, compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives. This film was preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.

We read the words. Words have always taught us to think we know.

But then

Grand Central by subway, 1905

Click. See the sudden coming of the light where the dead still live. A moment after you’ve seen it, you’ll be carried off to finish the time you serve in the dark. But as you pass back into the dark you’ll remember the light as if it were a word speaking itself. In its silence, the light will have taught you to hear what words aren’t still enough to say.