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A history of film

Parent categories: film - history

The first great mass medium of the modern era

The history of film is one of the most rapidly moving of any artistic or communications medium ever, as befits perhaps the first great mass medium of the modern era. Film has gone through a remarkable array of changes and developed a remarkable variety and sophistication in barely more than one hundred years of existence. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_film [Nov 2005]

A massive graveyard

Film history is like a massive graveyard in which lost films are buried, never again to be recovered or seen. As in life, the dead outnumber the living by a long shot. Although we have only just celebrated the first centenary of cinema, the statistics of mortality are frightening. Of all the films produced during the silent era, i.e. between 1895 and 1930, approximately 90% have been lost. In other words, only ten percent of all films from that era are still in existence. Of all films produced during the nitrate sound film era, i.e. between 1930 and 1955, only about 50% survive in any form. Independent, avant-garde, and documentary filmmakers are notoriously unconcerned about their past work, once a film has played its commercial run. They are justifiably more interested in finding the funding for their next project. Meanwhile, the negatives are lost, the remaining distribution copies are routinely destroyed or worn out through continual use. Films disappear from view and consciousness, unless some interested party manages to put a print away for safe-keeping. --Jan-Christopher Horak, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/firstrelease/fir1298/jhfr5b.html [Oct 2004]

Early film [...]

It was in America that people were first induced to pay to watch -- in May 1895 in a store on Broadway. In Europe it was not until November 1895 in Berlin that a movie was shown in public.

The quality of the movies shown in New York and Berlin were extremely poor and used processes that had no lasting impact on movie technology. The "true" debut of the motion picture is therefore usually dated to December 28, 1895 in Paris, where at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines the Lumière brothers had their first paying audience. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cinema [Sept 2004]

Sex in film history

The history of erotic films began with The Kiss (1896) and Douche après le bain (1897). The first erotic film star and also sex symbol was Theda Bara.

Documentary film [...]

Early film (pre-1900) was dominated by the novelty of showing an event. These short films were called "actualities." Very little storytelling took place before the turn of the century, due mostly to technological limitations: cameras could hold only very small amounts of film; many of the first films are a minute or less in length. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_film, Apr 2004

Seminal Horror Films, 1919 - 1999 [...]

by Noel O'Shea

Nouvelle Vague [...]

German Expressionism [...]

By country


The Story of Film (2004) - Mark Cousins

The Story of Film (2004) - Mark Cousins [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Editorial Reviews
The Story of Film presents the history of the movies in a way never told before. Mark Cousins's chronological journey through the worldwide history of film is told from the point of view of filmmakers and moviegoers. Weaving personalities, film technology, and production with engaging descriptions of groundbreaking scenes, Cousins uses his experience as film historian, producer, and director to capture the shifting trends of movie history. We learn how filmmakers influenced each other; how contemporary events influenced them; how they challenged established techniques and developed new technologies to enhance their medium. Striking images reinforce the reader's understanding of cinematic innovation, both stylistic and technical. The images reveal astonishing parallels in global filmmaking, thus introducing the less familiar worlds of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cinema, as well as documenting the fortunes of the best Western directors. The Story of Film presents Silent (1885-1928), Sound (1928-1990), and Digital (1990-present), spanning the birth of the moving image; the establishment of Hollywood; the European avant-garde movements, personal filmmaking; world cinema; and recent phenomena like Computer Generated Imagery and the ever-more "real" realizations of the wildest of imaginations. The Story of Film explores what has today become the world's most popular artistic medium.

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