Chapter 6 Notes
o Early Technology and the Evolution of Movies
o The Development of Film
The concept of film goes back as early as Leonardo DaVinci
Thaumatrope: invented in 1824, a two-sided card with
different images on each side that appeared to be combined
images when twirled
Zoetrope: invented in 1834, a cylindrical device that rapidly
twirled images inside a cylinder, which appeared to make the
Muybridge and Goodwin Make Pictures Move
Eadweard Muybridge is credited with being the first to
manipulate photographs to make them appear to move
while simultaneously projecting them on a screen
1884: George Eastman developed the first roll film
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince invented the first motion
Le Prince is credited with filming the first motion
picture, Roundhay Garden Scene, in 1888
1889: Hannibal Goodwin improved Eastman’s roll film
by using thin strips of transparent, pliable material
Edison and the Lumières Create Motion Pictures
Edison directed an assistant, William Kennedy Dickson,
to create the kinetograph and a single-person viewing
system, the kinetoscope
In France, Louis and Auguste Lumière developed the
cinematograph, a combined camera, film development,
and projection system.
Edison manufactured a new large-screen system called
the vitascope, which enabled filmstrips of longer
lengths to be projected without interruption and hinted
at the potential of movies as a future mass medium
o The Introduction of Narrative
The shift to the mass medium stage for movies occurred with the
introduction of narrative films: movies that tell stories.
Some of the earliest narrative films were produced and
by French magician and inventor Georges Méliès, who
the first public movie theater in France in 1896.
The first American filmmaker to adapt Méliès’s innovations to
narrative film was Edwin S. Porter.
o The Arrival of Nickelodeons Nickelodeons—a form of movie theater whose name combines the
admission price with the Greek word for “theater.”
Often managed by immigrants, nickelodeons required a minimal
investment: just a secondhand projector and a large white sheet.
o The Rise of the Hollywood Studio System
o Thomas Edison formed the Motion Picture Patents Company, known as
the Trust, in 1908
o Wanting to free their movie operations from the Trust’s tyrannical grasp,
two Hungarian immigrants—Adolph Zukor, who would eventually run
Paramount Pictures, and William Fox, who would found the Fox Film
Corporation (which later became Twentieth Century Fox)— played a role
in the collapse of Edison’s Trust.
o Production: everything involved in making a movie from securing a script
and actors to raising money and filming
o Distribution: getting the films into theaters
o Exhibition: playing films in theaters.
o This control—or vertical integration—of all levels of the movie business
gave certain studios great power and eventually spawned a film industry
that turned into an oligopoly, a situation in which a few firms control the
bulk of the business.
Responding to discerning audiences and
Edison’s Trust, Adolph
Zukor hired a number of popular actors
formed the Famous Players Company in 1912.
One Famous Players performer was Mary Pickford.
Pickford was so influential that in 1919 she broke from Zukor to
form her own company, United Artists.
By the 1920s the studio system firmly controlled creative talent in
Film Exchange system: In exchange for their short films, shown
between live acts, movie producers received a small percentage of
the vaudeville ticket-gate receipts
Block booking distribution: to gain access to popular films with
big stars like Mary Pickford, exhibitors had to agree to rent new or
marginal films with no stars.
When World War I disrupted the once-powerful European film
production industry, only U.S. studios were able to meet the
demand for films in Europe.
Edison’s Trust attempted to control exhibition by controlling the
flow of films to theater owners.
Movie palaces: full-time single-
screen movie theaters that
provided a more hospitable
movie going environment.
Mid-city movie theaters: were built in convenient locations near
urban mass transit stations to attract the business of the urban and suburban middle class
Big Five—Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth
Century Fox, and RKO
Little Three (which did not own theaters)—Columbia, Universal,
and United Artists
o The Studio System’s Golden Age
o Hollywood Narrative and the Silent Era
D. W. Griffith, among the first “star” directors, was the single most
important director in Hollywood’s early days.
Despite the cringe-inducing racism of this pioneering and
controversial film, The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the first
feature-length film (more than
an hour long) produced in
America. The three-hour epic was also the first blockbuster and
cost moviegoers a record $2 admission.
o The Introduction of Sound
Talkies: movies with people talking/sound
In 1927, Warner Brothers produced a feature-length film, The Jazz
The breakthrough film, however, was Warner Brothers’ 1928
release The Singing Fool
Fox studio premiered sound-film newsreels
o The Development of the Hollywood Style
Three ingredients that give Hollywood movies their distinctive
flavor: the narrative, the genre, and the author (or director)
Includes two basic components: the story (what happens to
whom) and the discourse (how the story is told)
In general, Hollywood narratives fit a