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COMN 2314 (16)
Chapter 1

Chapter one Film, Television and American Society

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York University
Communication Studies
COMN 2314
Joseph Kispal- Kovacs

Chapter 1: The movies begin th Why did movies appear in the late 19 century ? # of factors in the 1890s that allowed motion pictures to take off was: 1) The scientific impulse: - The number of technologies by scientists and inventors - photography and cinema were the newest and most effective tools avalible to make a realistic record of human events and the physical world. - the pre-history of the movies included a number of devices that anticipate the invention of cinema in the late 19 century in their efforts to create the illusion of realistic motion through the manipulation of images: the magic lantern, the fantasmagorie, the stereopticon, and serial photography - the first 10 years documentary films were called actualities. – a lot of films were made in this genre at the time. They were scenes of everyday life( ex: feeding a baby) -> no movement of camera , runs for 45 secs, video is soundless musicians would play along to the images. 2) The social context: - Industrlization , working class, urbanization and the need for cheap entertainment for new working class - Countries were developing( ex:America) - Modernization & growth of mass urban population helped to develop entertainment ( ex: circus, amusement parks ) keeping working class / humans amused. ( created the demand for cheap entertainment for the new urban industrial working class) Where did movies begin? – Serial photography pioneers Eadweard Muybridge: - 1877, the horse in motion - He set up a battery of cameras to conduct an experiment. He wanted to answer for Leland Stanford( his patron) whether a horse, in full stride, lifts all of its four legs off the ground at anytime. To conduct this research he took 12 cameras to take photos - Used his invention the zoopraziscope. By putting the photos together he realized that he can create the illusion of movement - This device was a kind of circular wheel that allowed drawings and still photographs to be projected onto a screen Thomas Edison : - Edison & Dickson came up with the Kinetoscope in 1893 & in 94 began charging amusement park patrons money to view moving images in this peep show viewing - Was not a financial success because only one person can view it at a time - Edison developed the vitascope projector in 1896 to compete with the Lumiere brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere: - French businessmen whose family own a factory that produced photographic equipment - Began to experiment with the idea of moving pictures and were the first to develop a Cinematographe ( A camera/projector) that records and project moving images on a big screen - December of 1895 they put on a show and charged admission for viewers to see short films that they made( ex: 1. Workers Exiting the factory, 2. A Train arriving at the station in a la ciotat) - 1. They set up a camera and filmed a scene of their own employees exiting their factory at the end of a shift. – the first reflexive film - 2. Celebration of industrial technology. The steam engine and passenger cars that constitute the narrative centre of this short clip are also products of the same industrial society that made possible its mechanical representation - Entered the American market in june 1896 - Beginning of the motion picture industry The Social Context: th  In the late 19 century there was many forms of entertainment: Circus, Wild West show, the amusement park and Vaudeville theatre. – activity of the new industrial working class  Vaudeville theatre was a little more expensive than other forms of entertainment and attracted middle class people. - Wealthy people were not involved in these activites  Large # of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe in the late period of mass immigration took place in 1890 & 1920  Universal language of the silent films made early movies attractive to non English speaking immigrants  Cinema was one of the first mass art and entertainment forms –mainly for working class  Most movies made before 1927 no long exists because of the chemical composition  Of the few remaining films the only one we have now were reconsonstructed from still photographs take from each frame by filmmakers  People who worked in the industry in NewYork were part of the political culture that included unionism and radical politics  Maufacturers of film equiptment wanted control of the industry ( ex: Edison began suing his competitors for patent infringement hoping to drive out business) Exhibition:  In rural areas moving were screened in community areas like church and union halls  Vaudeville were of live performances, movies were shown in between the performances – became the first permanent homes for movies  Nickelodeons were known as store front venues were people would pay a nickel to get in and watch The content of early American movies:  Were only 15 seconds long  The development of editing allowed for telling longer stories and the creation of more complex ways o telling them. ( splicing together different pieces of film)  The line between actuality and fictional films was blurred; if film makers could not get images of certain newsworthy event, the often staged re-enactments and passed them off as real. Some important early films to screen in class:  Most important : The Great Train Robbery produced by Edwin Porter for the Edison Compation - 10mins long, little more color - More than one camera angle – different locations - Color came in -1935 - Theres a story line - Music went a
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