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York University
HUMA 2740
Joseph Kispal- Kovacs

FILM2401/HUMA2740 – Intro. To Film, Television & Society Lecture #1: May 6, 13 Purpose of Course: To develop an understanding of the role that the mass media plays in society. Content: 1. An overview of the history of the film and television industries in the US 2. Acase study on the role of mass media (esp. film and television) in the construction of empire and its maintenance. th Why did the movies appear in the late 19 century? Anumber of factors came together in the 1890s that allowed the motion pictures to take off: • The scientific impulse • The societal context – industrialization, urbanization and the need for cheap entertainment for new working class Individuals Involved • Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) o The Horse in Motion, 1878 – to study the horse’s movement • Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) o Kinestoscope (1983) – only allowed one person to watch the movie at once o Important in motion picture technology • Auguste and Louis Lumiere o Summer 1895 was the first public screening of movies outdoors o First exhibition of projected motion pictures in December 1895 where paid customers would view the motion pictures EarlyAudiences in the US The first 10 or 15 years of the movie exhibition industry was characterized by the working class patronage. Arrival of immigrants from South and Eastern Europe: the universal language of the silent film. Upper class looked down at motion pictures at first and in some cases, tried to ban it. Early Exhibitions • Amusement parks • Vaudeville theatres (form of middle class entertainment – singing, dancing, comedy; showed motion pictures in between live acts) • Itinerant projectionist • Empty store fronts (Nickelodeons) (certain film-makers rented out specific locations where viewers would pay to view the motion picture) Types of Films Viewed By EarlyAudience • Short in length, started with a minute in length but turned loner soon after • Scenes of everyday life (beginning of documentary) • Development of editing • 1907 – narrative film becomes the dominant form in the US • Alot of social history could be told from these silent films during that time period: fashion, lifestyle • During the earthquake of 1906, a newsreel was made to tell a story through editing. • There were many types of film shown during the experience, which included a public announcement or a newsreel and the feature film. • The colour was paint in the B&W motion picture that added emphasis on what was going on in the scene. Case Study #1: The Spanish-American War (1898) • Ended with the US acquiring control over Cuba, The Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico from a defeated Spain • Edison Company sent their people to Cuba to cover the Spanish War while the war was still going on o Supported the US in war efforts • Edison Company began to re-enact the battle scene in Cuba when they couldn’t get the real battle scene. o There was no distinction that made the audience know that this was a re- enactment How Movies Became Big Business • MPPC (1908-1915) o The Motion Picture Patents Company o A.K.A. “The Edison Trust” o Dissolved
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