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History of Silent Films

Uploaded by sls465 on Apr 19, 2007

History of Silent Films

"Our invention can be exploited for a certain time as a scientific curiosity, but apart from that, it has no commercial future whatsoever."
- Auguste Lumière, early filmmaker who, with his brother Louis, organized the first public performance of motion pictures in December 1895

Silent films of the 1910s and 1920s were famous for the use of harsh makeup, the gradual development of lighting systems, and the use of inter-titles to show dialogue. Performers used pantomime techniques, exaggerated expressions and set props to articulate the story plots. Local actors read dialogue, and played music on a piano, phonographic equipment or a victrola that went with the films.

Between 1900 and 1930, filmmaking developed, from the Kinetoscope and Cinématographe, to silent films and "Talkies". In that time, a group of small studios and independent filmmakers recognized themselves, mainly in America, Britain and France. Borrowing staging techniques from the theatre and vaudeville, these films had dramatic stories with certain characters and plots.

As the first practical filmmakers, Edison and the Lumières set the most basic standards for film and film-story. Edison didn't edit his films, but he shot rough theatrical, invented pieces. These were done indoors and on mocked sets. The Lumières filmed active, not staged events as they happened. These films had a home movie value to them, which made them appear more realistic, and a fresh, natural quality that Edison's fictional productions needed. In spite of their differences, or perhaps because of them, these two early genres gave the required platform for the growing development of storytelling on film.

Movie theatres and other dream palaces supplied pianists, wurlitzers, and other sound machines, and some films were made with complete musical scores. Most early silent movies were accompanied with a full-fledged orchestra, organist or pianist to give musical background and to emphasize the narrative on the screen. Many early silent films were dramas, romances, slapstick, or comedies.

For the first twenty years of motion picture history most silent films were short--only a few minutes in length. At first it was an idea, and then it grew into an art form and literary form, silent films became better in plot and length in the early 1910's.

--Charlie Chaplin--

Many of the early stars of film and, later, television got their start on stage -- especially in vaudeville. Perhaps the most significant of these...

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Uploaded by:   sls465

Date:   04/19/2007

Category:   Film

Length:   2 pages (506 words)

Views:   7688

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