The Hours is a very good cross-cutting film because throughout the film it jumps back and forth between three different stories in three different time periods.

According to wikipedia,

Cross-cutting is an editing technique most often used in films to establish action occurring at the same time in two different locations. In a cross-cut, the camera will cut away from one action to another action, which can suggest the simultaneity of these two actions but this is not always the case.

But, wikipedia doesn't give any details about the first usage of the cross-cutting technique in films.

I wonder, What was the first movie with a cross-cutting technique like The Hours?

1 Answer 1


It is generally considered that D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation, et al) was the inventor of cross-cutting, as he tended to pioneer virtually every other editing technique in the early 20th Century - it is evident in his film A Corner of Wheat from 1909.

However, I have found an earlier example, The Great Train Robbery (1903).

Here is what elements of cinema has to say on the subject:

Also known as cross cutting, parallel editing gained prominence with Edwin S. Porter in his acclaimed movie The Great Train Robbery (1903). In this early picture, cross cutting is used to show what occurs in two different places but not much else. Though Porter didn't use the technique to its full potential, he was responsible for introducing the concept to the American film industry, allowing others to build upon it.

Here's a link to the wiki page on the subject.

  • Interesting. I had thought Birth of a Nation was first. You learn something new every day. Apr 12, 2012 at 12:33
  • Actually, it's been enlightening digging this stuff up - humbling too, as I was taught all this stuff years ago in film school and have subsequently forgotten it all :)
    – Nobby
    Apr 12, 2012 at 12:45
  • Glad you copied the info (back in 2012) as the site, elements of film is gone now (2022) Jul 27, 2022 at 12:29

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