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Early American Cinema & European Cinemas in the 1910s Jaakko Seppälä

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1 Early American Cinema & European Cinemas in the 1910s Jaakko Seppälä

2 Early American Cinema The United States was the biggest market for films The Edison Company hoped to control the whole American film market – Lawsuits (patent and copyright infringements) American Mutoscope Company (1896) American Vitagraph (1897) A patent case victory in March 1902 allowed American Mutoscope and Biograph to use its camera and 35 mm format without an Edison license

3 Edwin Stanton Porter The Edison Company hired Porter in 1900 and he began filmmaking in 1901 Porter soon became the most influential American filmmaker of the pre 1908 era Porter drew on techniques used by European filmmakers (Méliès and The Brighton School) Life of an American Fireman (1903), The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906) Showing the same action from two different vantage points was the norm (overlapping action)

4 Trip to the Moon (Méliès, 1902) Shots one and two show the same action from two different vantage points. This is overlapping action. Porter copied this manner of telling a story in shots and used it for example in Life of an American Fireman (1903).

5 Edwin Stanton Porter (1870-1941)

6 The Motion Picture Patents Company Due to patent struggles American companies missed their chances to expand production in the early 1900s 1907 court decision reaffirmed that the Biograph camera did not infringe Edison’s patent In 1908 The Edison Company and American Mutoscope and Biograph formed the MPPC – This new company was to control all competitors and charge license fees The MPPC set the stage for control over the entire American market by an oligopoly

7 The MPPC The Edison Company Biograph Company Vitagraph Company of America Selig Polyscope Company The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company Lubin Manufacturing Company Kalem Company National Independent Moving Picture Alliance Independent Motion Picture Corporation Thanhouser Film Corporation Solax Film Company New York Motion Picture Company

8 The Independents Stand Firm Many producers, distributors and exhibitors refused to pay fees to the MPPC Independent film theatres provided a market for unlicensed producers and distributors The MPPC hires detectives to gather evidence against the independents In 1912 it was ruled that the patents were invalid In 1915 the MPPC was order to dissolve on the basis of the Sherman Antitrust Act Meanwhile the independents had organised

9 David Wark Griffith D. W. Griffith is known as the most important filmmaker of the American cinema In 1907 he gave up his unsuccessful theatrical career He wrote scenarios and acted in films until Biograph Company made him a film director in 1908 Before 1913 he had made over 400 films for the company D. W. Griffith understood how different film techniques could be used to create a coherent style Made feature films as an independent producer & director Major developer of cross cutting and “realistic” acting

10 D. W. Griffith (1874-1948) Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith

11 Hollywood In 1909 American production centres were New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia In East poor weather could hamper production The Selig company made films in California in 1908 In early 1910s major producers moved to California Dry weather permitted filmmaking outdoors also into winter months California offered a variety of landscapes Head offices of the studios stayed in East

12 Danish Cinema Ole Olsen founded Nordisk Films Kompagni in 1906 In 1910 it was one of the biggest production companies in the world The international reputation of Danish cinema was based on good acting and high production values Typical themes: sexuality and desire Danish films are noteworthy for psychological realism, lighting techniques, camera-positioning and set design Asta Nielsen began her career in The Abyss (1910) – Uniquely cinematic acting


14 Asta Nielsen (1881-1972)

15 Pre-Revolutionary Russia Drankov produced Stenka Rasin in 1908 Early Russian cinema was dependent on non-cinematic culture (influence of Film d’Art productions) In the early 1910s Russian filmmakers were influenced by Danish melodramas and Italian diva films Russian style: slow pace of acting, melancholy mood, morbid endings, upper middle class interiors Russian themes: mad love, infidelity, crime, class conflicts Yevgeny Bauer was the most important filmmaker – Vast Art Nouveau settings, tracking shots, tragic endings

16 Yevgeny Bauer (1867-1917)

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