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HISTORY

Hiawatha was the first film by the Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP), which three years later would join with other film companies to form Universal Pictures. In a full-page advertisement that ran in several publications, including the 30 Oct 1909 The Moving Picture World, IMP president Carl Laemlle, wrote that the film was shot “at the Falls of Minnehaha in the Land of the Dacotahs,” although this may be an example of early ballyhoo. (More likely, the waterfall was filmed in New Jersey.) Laemmle continued: “And you can bet it is classy, or I wouldn't make it my first release. The title explains the nature of the picture. It is taken from Longfellow’s masterpiece of poesy and it is a gem of photography and acting. Following this I will release some more pictorial corkers and some screamingly funny stuff, bearing the true stamp pf American humor. Get ‘Hiawatha’ and see if you don’t agree that it starts a brand new era in American motion pictures.”
       The 6 Nov 1909 The Moving Picture World gave the following review: “If the Imp films are all as good as the first one released, a pictorial rendition of Longfellow's great poem, something worth while has been added to the beauty and attractiveness of the motion picture world, something which could not now be discontinued without leaving a sense of loss that would be difficult to replace. This picture was made at the Falls of Minnehaha, in the land of the Dakotahs, and represents some unusually attractive pictorial worth. The actors who did the posing clearly reproduced the scenes so graphically described in the poem, and ... More Less

Hiawatha was the first film by the Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP), which three years later would join with other film companies to form Universal Pictures. In a full-page advertisement that ran in several publications, including the 30 Oct 1909 The Moving Picture World, IMP president Carl Laemlle, wrote that the film was shot “at the Falls of Minnehaha in the Land of the Dacotahs,” although this may be an example of early ballyhoo. (More likely, the waterfall was filmed in New Jersey.) Laemmle continued: “And you can bet it is classy, or I wouldn't make it my first release. The title explains the nature of the picture. It is taken from Longfellow’s masterpiece of poesy and it is a gem of photography and acting. Following this I will release some more pictorial corkers and some screamingly funny stuff, bearing the true stamp pf American humor. Get ‘Hiawatha’ and see if you don’t agree that it starts a brand new era in American motion pictures.”
       The 6 Nov 1909 The Moving Picture World gave the following review: “If the Imp films are all as good as the first one released, a pictorial rendition of Longfellow's great poem, something worth while has been added to the beauty and attractiveness of the motion picture world, something which could not now be discontinued without leaving a sense of loss that would be difficult to replace. This picture was made at the Falls of Minnehaha, in the land of the Dakotahs, and represents some unusually attractive pictorial worth. The actors who did the posing clearly reproduced the scenes so graphically described in the poem, and interpreted the spirit of the lines in a manner which leaves comparatively little to be desired. The achievement is all the more striking when it is remembered what a difficult piece of work it must be to reproduce a poem like this, so subtle in its meaning, and so full of psychological suggestions. Yet the "Imp" players have accomplished this, and probably every person who has seen the new film has left the theater with a new sense of appreciation of the marvels and beauties of the motion picture in interpreting even the masterpieces of poetry and fiction.”
       This was the second of four films titled Hiawatha. The others were made in 1905, 1913, and 1952 (see entries). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Moving Picture News
21 Oct 1916
Section 2, p. 129.
Moving Picture World
23 Oct 1909
p. 563ar, 586tl.
Moving Picture World
30 Oct 1909
p. 594ta, 605ar.
Moving Picture World
6 Nov 1909
p. 645r.
NFAC3
p. 172.
NYDM
6 Nov 1909
p. 14r.
Treasures from the Film Archives
p. 257.
Variety
30 Oct 1909
tr.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the poem "The Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1855).
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1909
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
988
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
GENRE
Genre:


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.