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Chapter 1

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FILM 2401
Kispal- Kovacs Kovacs

Film, Television, & American Society: Lectures on the Media & on Empire [NOTES] Chapter 1- The Movies Begin Major factors in the 1980’s that allowed the motion pictures to take off: (1) Almost simultaneous refinement of a number of technologies by scientists and inventors that made the movies possible (2) The rise of mass urban populations. Demand for cheap entertainment for new urban industrial working class  Impulse is apparent in the drawing of animals in motion on the cave walls of our prehistoric ancestors  Early inventors pursuing the development of practical cinematic apparatus were interested in applying it primarily as a tool of science in order to seek an answer to one question: How can we record dynamic images of the physical world and then later study them to gain insight into the workings of natural phenomenon? (Sklar 1994, 5-12)  They tried to create the illusion of realistic motion through the manipulation of images: the magic lantern, the fantasmagorie, the stereopticon and serial photography  Documentary films (called “actualities” then) made up the bulk of films of this period When Did the Movies Begin?  Eadweard Muybridge employed a process that comes closest to resembling the technology we now call cinema or the movies  1877: Muybridge conducted an experiment to answer whether a horse, in full stride, lifts all of its four legs off the ground. After the success of the experiment, Muybridge travelled around the country delivering lectures on his work and demonstrating his results with a new device of his own invention—the zoopraxiscope. This device was a kind of circular wheel that allowed drawings and, later, still photographs, to be projected onto a screen. The Peep Show  Thomas Edison invented the Kinetoscope in 1893 and in 1894 started charging amusement park patrons money to view images. However, the kinetoscope was not a financial success due to the fact that it could only be viewed by one person at a time. Film Projection  Lumiere brothers of France (Auguste & Louis Lumiere) were the first to offer the projection of a series of moving images on a screen to a paying audience.  They were the first to develop an apparatus called a Cinematographe (a camera/projector) that could both record and project moving images. First screenings for a paying audition was held in Paris on December 28, 1895. This marked the beginning of cinema.  In early1896 Edison quickly developed and marketed the Vitascope projector to compete with the Lumieres. The Social Context  Movies appeared as part of a constellation of commercial cultural activities. Forms of entertainment such as the circus, Wild West show, amusement park and vaudeville theatre. Primarily, but not exclusively, activities of the new industrial working class.  The universal language of the silent film made the early movies particularly attractive to immigrants (Southern & Eastern Europeans). Film as a Working Class Medium  The American cinema had a mainly working class audience. Early American films were primarily centered on the concerns of American workers.  Before 1914 a large number of American films were made that dealt explicitly with class conflict: movies about strikes and trade unionism.  Cultural workers in New York began to see themselves as part of the working class and as part of the struggle against capitalism. Production  Early American film production (1896-1907) was organized primarily around one person: the cameraman.  Manufacturers of film equipment wanted control over the industry from early on. Edison began suing all his competitors for patent infringement in the hopes of driving them out of business. Distribution  Film producers would sell their films directly to exhibition houses, particularly the vaudeville theatres. Exhibition  Movies were presented as part of other forms of mass entertainment. Audiences watched movies at amusement parks.  Films were also brought to smaller urban centres and rural areas where movies were screened in available community locales such as churches and union halls.
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