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The Magical Attractions of Early Cinema

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Early story films were often based on ... the company was in debt and had to be sold British Cinema British cinema had an influential and innovative beginning Silent ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Magical Attractions of Early Cinema


1
The Magical Attractions of Early Cinema The
International Expansion of Cinema
Jaakko Seppälä
Homepage http//www.helsinki.fi/taitu/tet/Jaakko/
WorldFilmHistory1.html
2
Brighton and After
  • For decades early cinema was a neglected field of
    study
  • Early cinema was seen as an elementary stage of
    cinematic evolution
  • International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)
    held a symposium in Brighton in 1978
  • The event brought together film archivists and
    film historians around a common purpose
  • Early cinema began to be understood as a period
    that possessed a different conception of space,
    time and narrative form from the way in which
    these issues were approached in the later
    classical cinema

3
The Cinema of Attractions
  • For a long time the history of early cinema was
    theorised under the hegemony of narrative films
  • Early cinema (films made before 1906/1907) is now
    understood as the cinema of attractions
  • This cinema celebrates its ability to show
    something
  • In the first few years the film projector was the
    attraction
  • Then the demonstration of the possibilities of
    cinema continued in films
  • What ever the attraction is, it is of interest in
    itself

4
Actualities and Trick Films
  • Many early films are non-fiction films
    actualities
  • These films use footage of real events
  • Topics of actualities parades, sports,
    shipwrecks etc.
  • News events were covered on location where they
    happened but also recreated in studios
  • Line between fact and fiction was not sharply
    drawn
  • Trick films are cinematic magic tricks
  • These films are essentially devoid of plot
  • Special effects were used to show what was
    possible

5
Early Story Films
  • First story films were comic skits
  • Before 1903 mainly single-shot films
  • In many of these films there is no sense of depth
  • Longer multi-shot films became common from 1903
  • Reasons artistic innovation, product
    differentiation, enabled to sell more feet of
    film, more efficient to shoot films in studios
    than to make actualities on location
  • Simple narratives that follow action in linear
    fashion
  • New multi-shot film genre the chase film
  • Common and popular genre internationally in
    1903-1905

6
The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903)
7
Contextualising Early Films
  • Early films need to be studied in the context of
    the screen
  • The exhibitor, rather than the image-maker,
    generally held editorial control and was
    responsible for what is now called postproduction
  • The exhibitor bought single-shot films and
    created film programs
  • Lecturing, vocal acting, music, sound effects
    etc.
  • Early story films were often based on well known
    myths, fairy tales and nursery rhymes
  • Audiences were familiar with these (prior
    knowledge)

8
Tinted film
9
Toned film
10
Blue Tone and Rose Tint
11
Stencil Colour
12
Nickelodeons
  • Itinerant movie-show people played an important
    role in the creation of audiences for films
    outside the largest cities
  • In the United States storefront nickelodeons in
    large cities began operating in 1904 and 1905
  • Soon nickelodeons opened in every larger town
  • Preconditions film production on a large scale
    and film exchanges
  • In 1910 26 million Americans visited nickelodeons
    every week (mass entertainment)

13
A Nickelodeon
14
The International Expansion
  • Before the turn of the decade cinema was truly an
    international phenomenon
  • Films travelled freely across boarders
  • A typical film show consisted of films made in
    various countries
  • There were no national cinemas and it did not
    much matter where a film was made
  • Filmmakers influenced each other
  • This was an era of experimental filmmaking

15
Georges Méliès (France)
  • Stage Magician (Theatre Robert Houdin)
  • In 1896 Méliès bought a projector from R. W Paul
    and built his own film camera
  • Made films for his own company Star Film
  • The master of the trick film
  • Stop motion
  • Superimpositions
  • In many ways these films are excessively
    theatrical
  • Méliès was internationally successful until 1905

16
Georges Méliès (1861-1938)
17
Pathé Frères (France)
  • Pathé Frères was formed in 1896
  • The company produced film equipments and films
  • Pathé camera was the most popular film camera in
    the world before the 1920s
  • The company produced all kinds of films but in
    the early 1900s it was best known for its story
    films (fréeries)
  • Pathé became the first vertically integrated film
    company in the world when it opened its own film
    theatre in 1906
  • The largest and most important film company in
    the world before the Great War

18
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19
Film dArt
  • Film dArt was a small company founded in 1908 by
    Paul Latiffe
  • The company had good connections to the theatre
    world
  • Film dArt produced prestigious art films films
    for upper class audiences
  • Lassassinat du duc de Guise (1908)
  • Legitimate actors, scripts written by famous
    dramatists and original scores by well known
    composers
  • Film as art
  • In 1911 the company was in debt and had to be sold

20
(No Transcript)
21
British Cinema
  • British cinema had an influential and innovative
    beginning
  • Silent British films made after 1905 have been
    neglected (and/or considered bad)
  • A large number of phantom ride films in early
    1900s
  • Dolly shot films inspired by Lumière films
  • The Brighton School (Williamson Smith)
  • Ingenuity in editing and shooting practices
  • Rescued by Rover (1905)

22
Pendlebury Colliery 1900
23
Italy
  • Fiction film production began in 1905
  • In the early 1910s Italy was one of the major
    powers in world cinema
  • Early film production actualities, historical
    films and slapstick comedies
  • Soon Italy was known for historical epics
  • The zenith of achievement Cabiria (1914)
  • First feature films were made in the early 1910s
  • Diva films (Lyda Borelli Francesca Bertini)
  • Strongman films (Maciste)

24
Lyda Borelli
25
Bartolomeo Pagano
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