Ernie Gehr

30 minutes, black and white, silent, 16mm

USA 1974


“For Eureka, Gehr took an unusual approach to the avant-garde tendency to ‘recycle’ earlier films. Using A Trip down Market Street before the Fire (producer unknown, ca. 1905), Gehr provides viewers with a tour not only of San Francisco just before the 1906 earthquake and fire but also of the history that had intervened between the making of the original film and Gehr’s reworking the material three-quarters of a century later, as that history encoded itself in the physical decay of the original film. Gehr reprinted particular frames (A Trip down Market Street before the Fire is 9,5 minutes long; Eureka, 30 minutes), often reframing the original imagery, simultaneously reviving and exploring the original and the fading and particular tears and scratches that have damaged it.

Gehr’s film allows us to ‘see through’ the original imagery and to recognize many of the individuals, who in the faster-moving original imagery seem merely people on the street, as individuals with their own particular energy […].” (MacDonald 2001: 200 and 202)


Ernie Gehr, born 1941 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA



Scott MacDonald, The Garden in the Machine. A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2001).


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