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Film Studies -- Week 2 -- Film History/Language of Cinema

Film Studies -- Week 2 -- Film History/Language of Cinema






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    Film Studies -- Week 2 -- Film History/Language of Cinema Film Studies -- Week 2 -- Film History/Language of Cinema Presentation Transcript

    • Week 2 Lecture Film Beginnings / Language of Cinema
    • Early Film Experiments
      • In 1878, Edward Muybridge set up 12 cameras alongside a race track. The cameras were attached to trip wires so that when a horse ran by, it would take a picture. When put together, the series mimicked motion
      • The psychological phenomena which makes successive images appear like motion is known as “the persistence of vision”
    • Early Film: The Kinetograph
      • One of the earliest film inventions was made by Thomas Edison. His large camera was called the Kinetograph. The camera itself was housed in a small room, which led it to be called the “Black Maria”.
      • Because the camera was not easily transportable, In order to capture images, performers had to come into the room – this led to most of his films being performance based and removed from reality
      • The viewing apparatus was called the Kinetoscope. It was a one-person viewing machine and could not be played before an audience.
      • Edison Films:
        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIkLok-BYIk
    • Early Film: Lumiere Brothers
      • The other most influential early filmmakers come from France: The Lumiere Brothers.
      • They first started projecting films in 1895. They used an apparatus called the cinematographe, which acted as a camera, film developer, and projector. The camera was handcranked, so it didn’t rely on external power.
      • The camera was much more portable than Edisions Kinetograph, so their early films have real world events as their subject. The films could also be projected before a larger audience than the Kinetoscope.
    • Lumiere Brothers: Early works
      • One of the Lumiere’s earliest and most popular films was A Train Arriving at the Station (1895)
        • The film is one 50 second shot of a train arriving and the passengers coming off the train
        • There are some stories that audience members feared that the train was going to run into them when they were watching it on the screen
        • Link to the film:
          • A Train Arriving at the Station
          • Lumiere Brothers ’ First Films
        • Why do you think audiences would have enjoyed the films at the time?
        • What do you think audiences would think today?
    • Early Films: “The Cinema of Attractions ”
      • The earliest films are referred to as “the cinema of attractions”.
        • This is because film at the time was a novelty – filmmakers could place anything on the screen and audiences would be fascinated because of the medium itself
      • Subjects of early films were pretty similar
        • Vaudeville Acts
        • Reality Based
      • Why couldn’t more complex stories be told?
    • Melies: A Trip to the Moon
      • A Trip to the Moon (1902) was one of the earliest narrative films.
      • The film shows a great deal of fantasy and development of costuming in film, and certain sequences show that a film language was starting to emerge.
        • One sequence is the spaceship hitting the surface of the moon. It then cuts to a shot of the surface of the moon, where the spaceship lands again.
        • It is difficult to determine story because of the distance of the camera to the subject.
        • Link to the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbGd_240ynk
        • The band the Smashing Pumpkins did a send up of the film for a music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_f7LF3IiKI
    • Developments in Film Language
      • Audiences soon became bored with “the cinema of attractions” and filmmakers had to find new ways to keep their audiences entertained
        • Began to move towards narrative forms, however they found it difficult because of the lack of sound
        • Began using intertitles to narrate films. At first these needed to be long to explain the story, but as film language developed these began to only be used for dialogue
    • DW Griffith
      • One of the greats of early cinema was D.W. Griffith, an actor turned director who is probably best known for his work on The Birth of a Nation (1915)
      • Griffith was an innovator in using tighter shots of his actors. Using tighter shots allowed several things:
        • Audiences could read emotion of a story from the actors expressions, thus helping tell the story
        • Actors began using more realistic techniques, they no longer had to be melodramatic in their techniques.
      • Griffith was also an innovator in regards to editing. He began using cross-cutting, a technique where the director cuts between two scenes that are happening simultaneously. This heightens the suspense in the narrative.
    • Developments in Film Language
      • Films began experimenting with the sequence of shots, and certain experiments were codified into film language:
        • Point of View shots: Back to Nature (1910)
        • Reverse Angle: The Assassination of the Duc de Guise (1908), The Loafer (1911)
        • Flashbacks: Napoleon – Man of Destiny (1909)
      • Can you think of things that are tried in recent movies that have become parts of the film language?