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Archive for the ‘Early Cinema’ Category

More Old Recognizable Films

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The Great Train Robbery (1903) by Edward S. Porter

The film used a number of innovative techniques including cross cutting, double exposure composite editing, camera movement and on location shooting.

The whole film was composed of 14 scenes. While, the actual story of the film was pretty easy to get the jist of, considering the title and the images, it’s still hard to not appreciate this type of film for its time. I know I had heard the name before, being someone who enjoys films a lot, it wasn’t completely new to me. However, I hadn’t seen it before this class so finally seeing and understanding why it’s so special to the film industry, it makes a little more sense. My favourite thing in researching this film is the fact that because films were still so new to culture, the end scene were one of the robbers stands there with the gun seemed real and really scared the people watching it in the theatre. It’s so weird and interesting to think of what that must’ve been like to see this and be completely new and all of it be fresh to your mind and then someone shooting at you at the end of it. I thought the quality wasn’t that great, but it doesn’t matter because it was great back then and innovative and brand new. It truly is amazing to think of how amazing this all must’ve been during its time. Its almost as if the movies we watch now that we consider “amazing” could just be nothing in 100 years. I liked it. It makes you think of a lot of other films and their qualities and what makes this one stand out so much.

A Trip to the Moon (1902) by Georges Méliès

The film is 14 minutes long and considered as a huge part of fantasy films of all time. It was based off the books From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne &  The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells. It is also the first science fiction film, and uses innovative animation and special effects, including the well-known image of the spaceship landing in the moon’s eye.

This film didn’t really do much for me. I guess it’s because I’m not that big of a fan of science fiction films already, but I know that there is more to this film besides the genre it fits in. I recognized the special effects that were used were innovative and brought on a whole new wave into the film industry, or at least brought on a whole slew of more ideas. This film, along with The Great Train Robbery, had a huge impact for a lot of different reasons. My personal opinion is it’s hard to detach myself from the idea that this was all amazing for its time. I really do appreciate these films for their innovation and their place in the film industry.

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March 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm

The First Film

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Exiting the Factory (1895) by Louis Lumière

Well, there isn’t too much to say about this film except that it was pretty incredible for its time to have been produced. I noticed that there were a lot of women that exited the factory and seeing the bicycle and dog was unexpected. It’s only 46 seconds long and is referred to as the first film in history.

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March 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm

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D.W. Griffith

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D.W. Griffith was an American film director. Griffith started making films in 1907. Griffith was apart of the Biograph Company, which is the oldest movie company in America, and used their studios to create his films. Griffith was considered “the first champion of short films.” (As my notes say)

The Sealed Room (1909)

This film was an interesting play on a love “triangle” story. The ending definitely wasn’t something that I was expecting and I liked the film, overall. There isn’t much more I can say about it just because I think that it really spoke a lot for itself. I think the idea of passing time was really an interesting factor into this film because when the King ordered his men to build the brick wall, it obviously took longer in real time than it did in the movie. So it probably was challenging for Griffith to have that time passing effect but he did it well with cutting all of the images together to make that scene consistent. This also just proved of how amazing film still was and is with the lack of sound.

The Burglar’s Dilemma (1912)

This film is another one by this director with a really interesting story line. While it was interesting, and I respect the writing and acting that was produced in this film, I wasn’t too much of a fan. I’m not sure if the content just didn’t keep me interested in the story or what it was, but I can still appreciate the fact that it still had a lot to it, even without sound. I think I was just more impressed with that fact than this film itself.

House of Darkness (1912)

This film had a few of characteristics that are notable in my opinion. The first thing was the soundtrack. It kind of took away from the movie itself because it was extremely over-exaggerated in comparison to what was actually happening in the film. However, the story was still easy to follow along to. It’s still not considerably one of my favourites. I still fully understand why Griffith is so heavily credited for a variety of reasons, though. I liked the characters in this movie. They seemed more prominent in this particular film than anything else that I’ve noticed in other films. I thought the man who acted as an escapee from the asylum was great at acting his part and I thought the story of how music soothed him and his sickness was really great. It made the film come full circle because I sympathized with him at first as a patient, then felt confused and maybe a little angry when he turns on the woman with the gun, but then I felt comforted by the fact that he could be okay with just a piano playing. It’s extremely hard for me to not feel emotionally involved in these films. I know I should remove myself and be just a regular viewer, but it was really hard with a film like this.

The Lonely Villa (1909)

This film would essentially be considered a horror film. Possibly one of the firsts. Again, since I’ve been pretty spoiled with the films that have been available to me my whole life, this seems far from any horror film that I’ve seen. But it still has a plot that constitutes as one. It didn’t scare me though, however, I really wasn’t sure of what was going to happen so that probably is one difference that this film has a lot with more recent longer films, it was unpredictable. This is another example of why it’s understandable for Griffith to be as respected as he is. It maintained that “dramatic tension” and kept me wondering what exactly was going to happen next.

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March 1, 2011 at 7:04 am

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The Chemist

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Buster Keaton was an American actor and filmmaker around the same era as Charlie Chaplin. Keaton was involved in over 60 films from 1917 to 1966. A series of films that he did from 1934-1937 were juxtaposed together and formed “Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts.” One of those shorts was, The Chemist.

The Chemist (1936)

I liked this film, a lot. I thought it was extremely funny and it was much more similar to movies that I’m used than the silent film we watched with Charlie Chaplin previously. I thought Keaton did really well with his character and is an amazing actor. The quality of the picture was extremely different and improved quite a bit from 20 years before, which isn’t much of a surprise considering how far film has come to this day, but still, to think of how this film must’ve been in its time, is amazing. I thought the story was really great and fun to follow along. It made me laugh which is always a great thing. I also made note of the fact that this may of been seen as incredible in its time because of the special effects that it had. The silent explosive powder was a huge thing that stood out to me because it probably was a lot of work to make that real. This was the first film in class that I really really liked from start to finish.

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March 1, 2011 at 5:53 am

Charlie Chaplin & A Film Johnnie

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This was the first instance of any reference to film that I recognized. While, I hadn’t seen any Charlie Chaplin films, it’s still apparent and well-known how big of an influence he has on films, short and long, funny and serious. It was extremely interesting and fun to watch him for the first time in this class and while it was personally a new way of viewing a movie that I wouldn’t typically watch with an open mind, my understanding is only more clear now after seeing him in action.

A Film Johnnie (1914) – apart of the Central Chaplin Collection

This movie had a pretty simple plot. As IMDb clearly states it, Charlie goes to the movie and falls in love with a girl on the screen. He goes to Keystone Studios to find her. He disrupts the shooting of a film, and a fire breaks out. Charlie is blamed, gets squirted with a firehose, and is shoved by the female star. (IMDb.com)

It was hard to follow this movie, I’ll be honest. I’m used to dialogue, sound, colour and a story that is easily presented in front of me with those characteristics. But, after letting go of what I’ve been so spoiled with the past 21 years, it was cool. And, considering that this film was considered an actual film as opposed to a short back when it was made is pretty incredible to think of. The technique of creating a film back then is mind-blowing as well compared to what we have in our theaters now.

This was one of the films that text was first used for, and it was also created with just one camera. And the clips were all cut up to form the final film product.

I think Chaplin succeeds in portraying comedy with the disadvantage of no sound. His facial expressions and gestures make up for the lack of sound and proves as to why he is so heavily praised in the cinema world. I, unfortunately, missed a majority of the films we watched in class with Chaplin in them so I’m planning on catching up during my own time and will eventually post about those later on.

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March 1, 2011 at 5:36 am

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