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Ealry Film Essay Research Paper Being able

Ealry Film Essay, Research Paper

Being able to capture motion has occupied the human

psyche sine primitive times. This is evident through the

Lascaux cave paintings which depict buffalo with multiple

legs in a attempt to represent the animal running. Other

simple innovations also led to the motion picture, these

‘optical toys’ demonstrated the eye’s persistence of vision.

These ‘toys’ grew more advanced, but lifelike motion could

not be achieved until the photographic process was nearly


In the 1870’s Eadweard Muybridge was successful in

capturing the complete motion of a horse galloping. This was

the first step in bringing pictures to life. The next

invention came from a Rev. Hannibal Goodwin, who devised a

thin, flexible, plastic base he called celluloid, on which

could be put photosensitive material. George Eastman was the

first to market this celluloid film, and in 1890 Thomas

Edison and William Dicksom successfully tested the


The first motion picture captured and copyrighted on

this Kinescope was titled “The Sneeze”, which is simply a

man sneezing. Edison continued to make short films in his

studio, nicknamed the Black Maria. His shorts usually were

comprised of people performing vaudeville acts as a form of

sideshow attraction. These films would be viewed in

Kinescope parlors, from large wooden boxes with a eyepiece

on top.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in France, the

Lumieres brothers improve on Edisons Kinescope, and create

the Cinematograph, a smaller more portable camera, that can

film and view motion pictures. With this new Cinematograph,

the Lumieres brothers were able to film and then project the

product for an audience. They filmed what was around them,

daily life for upper-middle class Europeans, their first was

a whole group of people leaving a factory at the end of a

work day. Simple, but for its time it was amazing, seeing

live people walking around and moving just as they normally

would, but on a big screen! These types of films became the

Lumieres trademark, slice of life documentary work that

would be shown in front of audiences. One of the Lumieres

films: Arrival of a Train in the Cioat Station, was a train

coming straight for the camera on an angle, that terrified

the viewers.

Edison continued to make films, under his own,

controlled conditions. Although both Edison and the

Lumieres, saw the motion picture as nothing more than a

sideshow act and both filmed very documentary-esque work,

each had their own criteria for filming. Edison preferred a

indoor studio, where he could bring in vaudeville acts to

perform in front of the camera. The Lumieres brought the

camera out into the world and filmed from many different


At this point in motion pictures, the future for the

medium looked very dull, soon people would get bored with

the vaudeville acts and the world of reality and return to

literature for stimulation again. However, a magician named

George Melies, discovered the concept of trick photography

(quite by accident) , and brought narrative to motion

pictures. At first he would put together large, Broadway

musical numbers, and combine that vibrancy with what seemed

like magic powers. In 1902 he created what was to be called

his masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon, it was ten scenes

played out on about 30 sets.

With the innovation of the narrative brought into

motion pictures, the doors were opened for men like W.S.

Porter to make films like The Great Train Robbery, which

utilized one of the first camera movements. A simple pan to

follow the action but it allowed for artists to experiment

further and create more complex story lines. Another example

of a innovation that is still being used today is the

cross-cutting editing between the bandits and the posse.

As these films got more and more advanced, it began to

kindle the flame for the massive motion picture industry we

have today. Without these innovations and simple concepts we

might still be drawing buffalo with eight legs.