I’m very excited about this one! We’re going to be studying the most neglected period of movie history: the early days when most films were just a few minutes long and projecting them was a new innovation.
For our purposes, we are going to fix 1895 as the dawn of cinema as it was the year that movies were taken out of the peepshows and onto the silver sheet. Despite the fame of the Lumiere brothers, Woodville Latham & Sons of the United States and Max Skladanowsky of Germany both beat them to the punch in the race to project films but all of these breakthroughs neatly happened in 1895.
We’re going to be focusing on films made between 1895 and 1905, a bit over a decade of wonderful and, sadly, neglected entertainment. I mean, besides The Kiss, The Great Train Robbery and A Trip to the Moon, most of these films have fallen into obscurity with the general public. Never fear! We’re going to have a grand time touring this relatively untouched era.
Most films from this period were short, some just a few seconds long. We’ll be covering pictures that range from just under a minute to a full seven minutes. I should note, though, that feature films are older than most people think. According to The Emergence of Cinema by Charles Musser, the first feature film was The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (1897), a recorded boxing match that ran 90 minutes. The first fiction feature film is reckoned to be The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), a six-reel Australian production.
To whet your appetite, here are some early motion pictures I have already reviewed:
My selections for the month will cover quite a few different studios and famous talents of the period. I aimed for variety and will be giving special focus to France and Britain.
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