Beginning | New
Technology | The New Movies
The Nickelodeons | Movies: A Fading Art?
From Past to Present
The first movies were made in the late 1800s, when many people of Great Britain, France, and America were trying to invent a way to show motion pictures. For a long period of time, all of the many inventors met with failure, but finally success came to several people in such a short period of time that no one quite knows who first created movies.
In 1889, after about 2 years, Thomas Edison finally made motion pictures using a celluloid film base (made by Hannibal W. Goodwin) and film similar to that used today (made by George Eastman). Using these, either Edison or his assistant, William K. L. Dickson, invented the kinetoscope. Historians still are undecided as to which one invented it.
With the kinetoscope, people were able to view moving pictures through a tiny peep-hole. In 1894, the Kinetoscope Parlor opened in New York City. It was like an ordinary building with two rows of lined up kinetoscopes, each one coin operated.
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NEW TECHNOLOGY (FOR THE 1800s)
Kinetoscope technology was soon put to new uses, and on December 28, 1895, in a cafe in Paris, the first public motion picture to be displayed on a screen, was shown. This was very popular, and as a result, the technology began to spread across Europe.
At this point, Thomas Edison realized the popularity of these motion pictures. Using Thomas Armat's new invention, the projector, Thomas Edison was able to build the projecting kinetoscope, and with this, he did the first public exhibition of motion pictures. In Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City in early 1896, Thomas Edison made history.
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THE NEW MOVIES
Now film-making spread across the globe. People finally realized how fun it was to capture movement on film that people could look at whenever. People all over the world enjoyed this new technology and pretty soon they became very common in arcades, performances, museums and fairs.
Eventually, however, movies began to lose their popularity. People no longer believed what they were seeing was really happening. They began to understand the fact that the entire motion picture industry was based on illusion. Movies began to appear as clips with no plots. The movie industry was fading fast.
At last people realized how to save the industry. They began to film longer movies, this time with plots. In 1899, George Melies of France filmed short fairy tales and sci-fi stories. He wrote, directed, acted in, and designed the sets for his movies.
Soon, Edwin S. Porter, another director, began to make films too. Of all his films, the most famous is The Great Train Robbery. Made in 1903, it showed the story of a train robbery. It was the first movie ever that used separate scenes that were not necessarily filmed in order of action.
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The Great Train Robbery was such a hit that more and more people began to want to see movies, and because of this, people started making nickelodeons, or early movie theaters that charged five cents per person, per entry. Since the movies were silent, the nickelodeons usually featured pianists to accompany the films.
The nickelodeons soon became very popular. As the want for movies continued to increase, so did the number of nickelodeons. As of 1907, more than 5,000 nickelodeons had been made in the US.
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MOVIES: A FADING ART?
In the early 1900s, people realized the there was a city that they had been ignoring. Los Angeles had gone completely unnoticed. Film-makers began to finally realize that Los Angeles had the perfect climate and landscapes. In 1911, a film-making group called the Nestor Company established a studio there called Hollywood, which soon became the world movie capital.
Despite the fact the movies were very popular, many actors and actresses refused to let their names show. Movies were considered a demeaning form of acting because of the fact that it had no sound, and thus the actors and actresses had relatively easy jobs.
Despite this, there were still some actors who loved movie acting. Around 1912, one of them, the Canadian Mack Sennett opened the Keystone Studio in Glendale, CA. The studio filmed comedies ranging from Fatty Arbuckle to Charlie Chaplin to Gloria Swanson. Sennett incorporated trick photography, editing, and cartoons.
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FROM PAST TO PRESENT
Although all of these advancements had been made, movies still lacked one thing: sound. Until 1927, every movie was silent. The closest to sound that the movies achieved was music in the background played on a phonograph. But for many, that wasn't enough. In 1926, Warner Brothers revolutionized the film industry with the production of The Jazz Singer, which featured a scene in which people talked, and you could hear them.
By 1929, many people refused to watch silent movies. Theatre owners were forced to put sound equipment in their theatres. People enjoyed these movies so much that the US movie attendance increased from 60 million (1927) to 110 million (1929.) In the early 1930s, people were making musicals (e.g. 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933), gangster movies (e.g. Little Caesar and The Public Enemy), horror films (e.g. Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy), etc. Some other famous movies in the 30's were Stagecoach, The 39 Steps, Gone with the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz. Finally, with the creation of The Wizard of Oz, the first color movie, the industry was revolutionized.
For a while, people didn't usually make movies with color. They were expensive and very hard to make. Even though television was invented in the 40's, it still was a long way away from what it is today. There was bad reception and no color. But through hard work and patience, people began to fix up and modernize the television and movie industry.
The first movies to be very close to movies today were in the 70's, including The Exorcist, Jaws, Rocky, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Grease, and Star Wars. Soon, the motion picture industry added more technology, like advanced computer editing, as in the 1999 movie, The Matrix, and computer animation, like in the 1998 Disney movie, A Bug's Life, or the 1999 film, Star Wars Episode 1: Th Phantom Menace. What more revolutions will come? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
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