Home > Research > Forty-Niners


Duration: 15min 50s
Color : black and white, color
Aspect ratio : standard format (1,33 :1), original cinemascope (2,55 :1)

Forty-Niners is a western composed of five sequences that illustrate stories of the conquest of the West.

In the Wild West, dust is omnipresent: it rises when convoys pass, it swirls in the wind, and it gets inside adobe buildings. In the 1910s, filmmakers employed tricks to reduce the amount of dust blowing around on film sets. Less dusty, these new westerns looked stripped of the authenticity of western weather conditions, the same conditions that had motivated production studios to move to California as early as 1907.
Forty-Niners considers dust as the only character in his stories. The narrative is suggested by the shapes of the clouds of particles and by the sounds.

This project was realized in collaboration with Julia Pelichet, at HEAD – Geneva.
Special thanks to : Alexandra Midal and Emma Pflieger.
Film poster and intertitles: © Thomas Yaël Lopes
Photo credits: © Tanguy Benoit, © Julia Pelichet