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HIST 200
Brad Lushman

History 200 History and Film History 200: In the Beginning Slide 1: History 200: History and Film This lecture is titled In the Beginning… The Birth of Movies. Slide2: 1895 If we take the beginning of our modern world asstarting around 1895, for example, and go to that year we would find that there was a lot going on. This was theyear in which Freud first published his works on psychoanalysis. This was the year when Marconi was busy pioneering wireless telegraphy. Thiswas the year when the flow of money between theUnited States and Europe was reversed for the first time with the United States sending more money to Europe than it owed. Great Britain, Italy, France and other nations were advancing into Africa and other territories to expand their colonial empires, but 1895 was special because it was the year in which cinema made its public debut and that would also help in changing the world forever. The cinema from the beginning performed several functions, not the least of which was the use that the large imperial powers put to cinema to show documentary footage of the empire, especially in exotic locales. That allowed people at home to see the peoples that were being “pacified” in their name. It allowed people to see places in the empire which they could never dream of travelling to In addition, cinema soon became the centre of a growing leisure industry. Industrialization and increasing automation meant shorter working days, allowed more time for leisure, and cinema was born at the right moment to satisfy this growing demand. The cinema offered cheaper, simpler ways of providing entertainment to the masses. Filmmakers could record actors’ performances and these could be shown to audiences not just at home but worldwide. Travelogues would bring sights of far flung places, exotic places directly to the viewers’ hometowns. Movies became the most popular visual entertainment of the late Victorian age. The 1890s saw not only the debut of cinema but the increasing use of new inventions like the telephone which was invented in 1876. The phonograph came to be in 1877 and all of this paralleled the development of the automobile in the 1880s and the 1890s. Like these inventions the cinema was a technological device which would become a new artistic medium for the masses. But what has this to do with history other than being part of the history of the Industrial Revolution in the development of modern culture? It’s important because it changed how people viewed the world. This new part of their world would become part of our world and the people of that time learned about the past and present through cinema as sometimes we still do today. Films were not only a part of the entertainment choices the masses had, at the same time they became historical materials which we can now use to study their age just as books and archeological evidence, for example, havebeen used to study the past. In this lecture, I would like to look at the history of how these new cinema inventions came to be. Slide 3: Invention of Cinema When we look at an invention, and the cinema is no exception, it’s bestI think sometimes to start by considering preconditions. The preconditions of the invention of modern cinema came about through earlier devices. In Europe from the 17 century on, entertainers and educators had used magic lantern devices to project glass lantern sildes as a way of showing images on a wall or on a screen. The shows were, of course, limited because they did not allow images to be changed quickly enough to create the illusion of motion. Scientists had yet to realize that the human eye will © University of Waterloo and others. perceive motion if a series of slightly different images is placedbefore the eye in rapid succession. This effect is called the persistence of vision. The eye keeps an image for a fraction of a second, actually it’s the mind that retains the image, for a fraction of a seconafter the source is removed. In psychology this effect sometimes is called beta movement and it was not explained to anyone until 1912. So, if we go back into the 19 century we first find an example of devices appearing in the shape of optical toys which were made and the attraction of these toys was that they gave the illusion of movement using, again, a number of drawings each a little different from the one before. An example of this was a device that came along in 1833 called the zoetrope– a toy which had a series of drawings on a narrow strip of paper pasted inside a revolving drum and this drum had slits in it. The child merely turned the revolving drum which was set on a turn table and looked at the drawings through the slits in the drum as it went around and that produced the illusion of motion. A popular type of the zoetrope often featured a monkey jumping up and down on a galloping pony. A little bit later on people begant think that perhaps these sorts of entertainments could be put to more practical use and we get into the whole area of the beginning of motion studies. It was a new field in science. It was developed to understand human and animal movement. The new science had several goals, such as devising exercises to improve the fitness of infantry soldiers or to solve such mysteries as how birds flew. A byproduct of this would eventually be live action cinema and animation which were both results of the same drive to capture, store, and replay motion at will. Slide 4: Eadweard Muybridge Eadweard Muybridge--he was a motion studies pioneer and also the very first English person that went to Hollywood to find their future. Some claim that without him there may have been no moving pictures at all, and therefore, no Hollywood or motion picture industry. Let’s consider if such claims could possibly be true. This oddly named man was born with a different name, he was born Edward Muggeridge in 1830 in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. His father was a grain dealer but the son wanted a more exotic life and he began by renaming himself to conform with Saxon spelling simply because he admired the statue of a Saxon martyrking who stood in the town marketplace. He was interested in photography and took this interest with him in 1867 when he moved to California where he decided to make his living by selling photographs of the Yosemite Valley for $20 each–quite a princely sum in those times in America. Within a year he landed a job as director of photographic surveys for the U.S. government and was in Alaska photographing ports and harbours for the U.S. army when that territory was purchased by Russia, he returned to California and was soon hired by two millionaires to settle a bet. Leland Stanford, at one time a governor of California and also a railway tycoon and the founder of Stanford University, and Fred McCrellish, a San Francisco newspaper owner. Both were race horse enthusiasts and they had a bet between them about whether a galloping horse ever has four hooves off the ground at the same time. Muybridge was asked to settle the matter using his vast knowledge of photography. What did Muybridge do? Hedecided to photograph a horse galloping at full speed. He did this by lining up 12 cameras evenly spaced along the race track and as the horse passed the cameras it tripped wires causing the cameras to take what would really be a series of photographs, one after the other. This series of photographs of a horse in motion was the first in what would later be other series studies of animals and humans in motion but more importantly, it led to the world’s first moving picture. The photographs were reproduced around the edge of a transparent disc which was rotated in front of the lens of the device which projected light through them, that is through the pictures, giving the illusion of motion and Muybridge called his device the zoopraxiscope projector. This remarkable device was shown at the World’s Fair in 1833 to a distinct lack of public interest, even though it was the forerunner of Edison’s kinetoscope and was in effect the world’s first movie projector even if it could only show a short sequence of © University of Waterloo and others. photographs and the motion was jerky. Muybridge went on to become the developer of an important series of photographic studies of motion at the University of Pennsylvania. He retired in 1900 to his birthplace atKingston-upon-Thames, near London but by that time he had inspired a whole group of other inventors to make further developments. Slide5: Cameras And so we move into the whole area of cameras and the first person I would like to introduce you to is Etienne-Jules Marey. By 1888 Marey, who was working in France, had developed a motion picture camera which could take 20 images per second. The trouble was that the images were recorded on paper and on a roll which had no perforations so it was unreliable to capture and project true motion picture images but, nevertheless, it was a stage in the development of what would become motion pictures on film. By 1890, celluloid had been invented, actually in different places by various inventors, but it was commercialized by George Eastman in Rochester, New York and so celluloid became widely available and Marey patented his camera for use with celluloid in1890. What he did was simplytake celluloid strips and put holes in them, perforations. The next person to sort of develop these ideas a little bit further came along in the form of Thomas Alva Edison. He was already famous as the inventor of the phonograph and he had seen Muybridge use his zoopraxiscope at a demonstration in New Jersey and he met with Muybridge to discuss the possibility of connecting his projector with Edison’s phonograph. Nothing came of that. However, Edison continued working on a projector on his own, but again, without success. Edison was not one to give up. He hired a Scottish inventor by the name of William Dickson to investigate different versions of what Edison had already developed as a primitive projector which he called a kinetoscope. This machine used celluloid coatedstrips with photographic emulsion and these strips were fed around cylinders. Edison went to Paris for the World’s Fair of 1889 and saw Marey’s camera and met with Marey who in their discussions came up with some different ideas and some ways in which perhaps Edison was going wrong. So, Edison and Dixon came up with a horizontal feed system by 1891 and switched to a wider film by 1892. This meant that more equipment would be required and especially a place to use that equipment so Edison had to develop, to build, a film studio, which he did in New Jersey and it was called The Black Mariah. If you look at a picture of The Black Mariah you will see that really it was a wooden frame with tar paper enclosing it so that made it into a small black room and it was set on a large wooden turntable which allowed it to be rotated to set sun light in through openings in the roof. Sunlight was still the only source of film lighting. In the studio various scenes, usually Vaudeville acts, were filmed. The films were shown in the same studio and spectators could watch these films through a peep-hole in a box. Edison went on to exploit the kinetoscope by leasing it to special viewing parlours and the first such kinetoscope parlour opened in New York City in 1894. These kinetoscopes were accompanied by a cylinder phonograph in the same cabinet and the two were synchronized so the viewer could listen through tubes to a phonograph playing sounds or music which were approximately suitable to what was on the film. Soon other partners in The United States and in Europe opened to exhibit these machines and for two years the kinetoscope parlours were really profitable but they were soon eclipsed when new devices came along to replace them, especially when these new devices could show movies on a screen. Slide6: ProjectingImages This leads us into another subtopic and that is the whole subject of projecting images. The invention of the cinema cannot be attributed to one person in one country . It was an international process emerging in different places at the same time, especially in The United States, in France, in England but elsewhere too. Solet’s zero in on the European contributions and I’d like to start by talking about two brothers of whom you’ve probably never heard. Max and Emil © University of Waterloo and others. Skladanowsky lived in Germany and the brothers had developed their own system for both taking and projecting films. The system was contained in one machine and they called it the bioscop. It was a machine that held two strips of film which ran sideby-side and the frames from each stripwould be projected alternately. The machine was heavy. It was really cumbersome but the point was that it worked. It projected moving images on a screen. These brothers showed a 15 minute program at a large Vaudeville theatre in Berlin, on the first of November in 1895. This is notable because this was two months before the famous Lumière screening in Paris which I will get to in a moment. The Skladanowsky brothers, from Germany, took their machine and they toured Europe throughout 1897 but they didn’t pursue a business model and they failed to establish a stable production company and soon they were eclipsed by others and faded from the scene. Slide 7: Louis and August Lumière Two brothers who had a lot to do with the Skladanowskys being eclipsed were Auguste and Louis Lumière. The other pair of brothers, this time from France, were to become much more famous by inventing a projection system and they created a commercially successful business and an international one at that. Their family owned and opera ted Europe’s biggest manufacturer of photographic plates which was based in Lyon, France. In 1894, a local kinetoscope exhibitor asked them to make short films cheaper than the ones sold by Edison. To do so, they designed a little camera and this little camera they called the cinématographe. It used 35 millimetre film and had an intermittent mechanism which was based on that of the ordinary sewing machine. Better still, the camera could also serve as a printer to make copies from the negative and couldbe mounted in front of a magic lantern to serve as a projector as well. It was a perfect all-in-one th device. On the 28 of December, 1895 in the Grand Café, in Paris took place one of the most famous film screenings in history. Fashionable citizens of the city paid one franc each to see a 25 minute program of 10 films. The cinema exhibition I’m talking about is cited in many books as being the first public demonstration of motion pictures to a paying audience although really the first exhibition took placein Berlin a few months before. You should be able to see some of these films on YouTube, the Internet site, if you take a look. The first film shown was the first film ever taken by the Lumière brothers at their factory and it showed the workers leaving the factory. It was a very ordinary scene but one which fascinated its audience because the audience were simply amazed at watching people in motion. Another film in that exhibition was actually a home movie called The Baby’s Meal–a movie of the Lumières feeding their young child. The audience watched in amazement at the first home movie ever taken. More entertaining brief films were also shown in the program. There was a comic scene called The Sprinkler Sprinkled and this was a staged scenario. A boy steps on a garden hose causing a confused gardener to wonder what cut the water off and look into the nozzle to see what’s wrong and then the boy removes his foot and the gardener gets sprayed. Another film was simply a scene of a boat leaving a port. This was a film the audience found thrilling because it showed the motion of water and the motion of the waves. It was even said that some patrons sitting near the front dropped to the floor for fear of getting wet. Within weeks the Lumière brothers wer
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