Presentation on theme: " Modern cinema is generally regarded as descending from the work of the French Lumière brothers in 1895, and their show first came to London in 1896."— Presentation transcript:
Modern cinema is generally regarded as descending from the work of the French Lumière brothers in 1895, and their show first came to London in 1896. However, the first moving picture was shot in Leeds by Louis Le Prince in 1888 and the first moving pictures developed on celluloid film were made in Hyde Park, London in 1889 by William Friese Greene, a British inventor, who patented the process in 1890. The first people to build and run a working 35 mm camera in Britain were Robert W. Paul and Birt Acres. They made the first British film Incident at Clovelly Cottage in February 1895, shortly before falling out over the camera's patent. Soon several British film companies had opened to meet the demand for new films, such as Mitchell and Kenyon in Blackburn. From 1898 American producer Charles Urban expanded the London-based Warwick Trading Company to produce British films, mostly documentary and news. He later formed his own Charles Urban Trading Company, which also produced early colour films. Although the earliest British films were of everyday events, the early 20th century saw the appearance of narrative shorts, mainly comedies and melodramas. Popular and pioneering film makers included the Bamforths in Yorkshire, William Haggar and his family business in Wales and Frank Mottershaw whose film, A Daring Daylight Robbery, started the chase genre. The early films were often melodramatic in tone, and there was a distinct preference for storylines which were already known to the audience - in particular adaptations of Shakespeare plays and Dickens' novels.
By the mid-twenties the British film industry was losing out to heavy competition from Hollywood, the latter helped by having a much larger home market. in 1914 (see 1914 in film), 25% of films shown in the UK were British — by 1926 this had fallen to 5%. The Cinematograph Films Act 1927 was passed in order to boost local production, requiring that cinemas show a certain percentage of British films. The act was technically a success, with audiences for British films becoming larger than the quota required. But it had the effect of creating a market for 'quota quickies': poor quality, low cost films, made in order to satisfy the quota. Some critics have blamed the quickies for holding back the development of the industry. However, many British film- makers learnt their craft making these films, including Michael Powell and Alfred Hitchcock. In the silent era, with English actor Charlie Chaplin its biggest star, audiences were receptive to films from all nations. However, with the advent of sound films, many foreign actors or those with strong regional accents soon found themselves in less demand, and more 'formal' English (received pronunciation) became the norm. Sound also increased the influence of already popular American films.
Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) is regarded as the first British sound feature. It was a part-talkie with a synchronised score and sound effects. Later the same year, the first all-talking British feature, The Clue of the New Pin (1929) was released. It was based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, starring Donald Calthrop, Benita Home and Fred Raines, made by British Lion at their Beaconsfield Studios. The first all-colour sound feature (shot silent but with a soundtrack added) was released in the year and was entitled A Romance of Seville (1929). It was produced by British International Pictures and starred Alexander D'Arcy and Marguerite Allan. In 1930, the first all-colour all-talking British feature, Harmony Heaven (1930), was released. It was also produced by British International Pictures and starred Polly Ward and Stuart Hall. A number of all-talking films containing colour sequences, mostly musicals, were also released in the same year. The School for Scandal (1930) was the second all- talking feature to be filmed entirely in colour.
After the boom years of the late 1920s and early 1930s, rising expenditure and over-optimistic expansion into the American market caused the production bubble to burst in 1937. Of the 640 British production companies registered between 1925 and 1936, 20 were still going in 1937. Moreover, the 1927 Films Act was up for renewal. The replacement Cinematograph Films Act 1938 provided incentives for UK companies to make fewer films of higher quality and, influenced by world politics, encouraged American investment and imports. One result was the creation by the American company MGM of an English studio MGM-British in Hertfordshire, which produced some very successful films, including A Yank at Oxford (1938) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), before World War II intervened.