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The Magical Attractions of Early Cinema & The International Expansion of Cinema Jaakko Seppälä Homepage:

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1 The Magical Attractions of Early Cinema & The International Expansion of Cinema Jaakko Seppälä Homepage:

2 Brighton and After For decades early cinema was a neglected field of study Early cinema was seen as an elementary stage of cinematic evolution International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) held a symposium in Brighton in 1978 The event brought together film archivists and film historians around a common purpose Early cinema began to be understood as a period that possessed a different conception of space, time and narrative form from the way in which these issues were approached in the later classical cinema

3 The Cinema of Attractions For a long time the history of early cinema was theorised under the hegemony of narrative films Early cinema (films made before 1906/1907) is now understood as the cinema of attractions This cinema celebrates its ability to show something In the first few years the film projector was the attraction Then the demonstration of the possibilities of cinema continued in films What ever the attraction is, it is of interest in itself

4 Actualities and Trick Films Many early films are non-fiction films – actualities These films use footage of real events Topics of actualities: parades, sports, shipwrecks etc. News events were covered on location where they happened but also recreated in studios Line between fact and fiction was not sharply drawn Trick films are cinematic magic tricks These films are essentially devoid of plot Special effects were used to show what was possible

5 Early Story Films First story films were comic skits Before 1903 mainly single-shot films In many of these films there is no sense of depth Longer multi-shot films became common from 1903 Reasons: artistic innovation, product differentiation, enabled to sell more feet of film, more efficient to shoot films in studios than to make actualities on location Simple narratives that follow action in linear fashion New multi-shot film genre: the chase film Common and popular genre internationally in

6 The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903)

7 Contextualising Early Films Early films need to be studied in the context of the screen The exhibitor, rather than the image-maker, generally held editorial control and was responsible for what is now called postproduction The exhibitor bought single-shot films and created film programs Lecturing, vocal acting, music, sound effects etc. Early story films were often based on well known myths, fairy tales and nursery rhymes Audiences were familiar with these (prior knowledge)

8 Tinted film

9 Toned film

10 Blue Tone and Rose Tint

11 Stencil Colour

12 Nickelodeons Itinerant movie-show people played an important role in the creation of audiences for films outside the largest cities In the United States storefront nickelodeons in large cities began operating in 1904 and 1905 Soon nickelodeons opened in every larger town Preconditions: film production on a large scale and film exchanges In million Americans visited nickelodeons every week (mass entertainment)

13 A Nickelodeon

14 The International Expansion Before the turn of the decade cinema was truly an international phenomenon Films travelled freely across boarders A typical film show consisted of films made in various countries There were no national cinemas and it did not much matter where a film was made Filmmakers influenced each other This was an era of experimental filmmaking

15 Georges Méliès (France) Stage Magician (Theatre Robert Houdin) In 1896 Méliès bought a projector from R. W Paul and built his own film camera Made films for his own company Star Film The master of the trick film – Stop motion – Superimpositions In many ways these films are excessively theatrical Méliès was internationally successful until 1905

16 Georges Méliès ( )

17 Pathé Frères (France) Pathé Frères was formed in 1896 The company produced film equipments and films Pathé camera was the most popular film camera in the world before the 1920s The company produced all kinds of films but in the early 1900s it was best known for its story films (fréeries) Pathé became the first vertically integrated film company in the world when it opened its own film theatre in 1906 The largest and most important film company in the world before the Great War

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19 Film d’Art Film d’Art was a small company founded in 1908 by Paul Latiffe The company had good connections to the theatre world Film d’Art produced prestigious art films films for upper class audiences L’assassinat du duc de Guise (1908) Legitimate actors, scripts written by famous dramatists and original scores by well known composers Film as art In 1911 the company was in debt and had to be sold

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21 British Cinema British cinema had an influential and innovative beginning Silent British films made after 1905 have been neglected (and/or considered bad) A large number of phantom ride films in early 1900s – Dolly shot films inspired by Lumière films The Brighton School (Williamson & Smith) – Ingenuity in editing and shooting practices Rescued by Rover (1905)

22 Pendlebury Colliery 1900

23 Italy Fiction film production began in 1905 In the early 1910s Italy was one of the major powers in world cinema Early film production: actualities, historical films and slapstick comedies Soon Italy was known for historical epics – The zenith of achievement: Cabiria (1914) First feature films were made in the early 1910s Diva films (Lyda Borelli & Francesca Bertini) Strongman films (Maciste)

24 Lyda Borelli

25 Bartolomeo Pagano


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