This edition explores the establishment of cinematic genres in the first years of the 20th Century, offering rare glimpses of the innovative visual comedy of Max Linder, the pioneering Italian epic NERO – or THE BURNING OF ROME, the phenomenal animation of Windsor McCoy, the social realism of Alice Guy Blaché’s MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, D. W. Griffith’s early melodrama A GIRL AND HER TRUST, and more!
By 1907 the cinema’s initial growing pains had subsided and fairly distinct generic categories of production were established. This volume of The Movies Begin examines some of these integral works that begin to reflect the modern day cinema — punctuated with authentic hand-tinted lantern slides used during early theatrical exhibition.
Visual comedy, with notable elements of slapstick, is represented in Pathé Frères’ The Policeman’s Little Run (1907), Bangville Police (1913, marking the first appearance of the legendary Keystone Kops) and Max Linder’s Troubles Of A Grass Widower (1908). Best remembered today as a major influence on Charlie Chaplin, Linder was one of the first and most popular stars of the cinema. The comic potential of such a basic device as an undercranked camera is exhibited in Pathé’s Onésime, Horloger (Onésime, Clock-maker, 1912).
Alice Guy-Blaché’s Making An American Citizen (1912) is an excellent example of the films of social conscience, always an undercurrent beneath the apparently smooth surfaces of commercial productions. Released the very same week was D. W. Griffith’s A Girl And Her Trust, a superb film of wide emotional range and great technical virtuosity made near the end of his tenure at the Biograph Company.
Nero, Or The Fall Of Rome (1909) strains at conventional film limitations in dimension and duration, looking forward to the revolutionary Italian epics (Cabiria, The Last Days Of Pompeii) that followed a few years later.
Equally prophetic are the dazzling animations showcased in the Vitograph Company’s Windsor McCay And His Animated Pictures (1911).
The Policeman’s Little Run (1907)
Troubles Of A Grass Widower (1908)
Nero, Or The Fall Of Rome (1909)
Onésime, Clock-maker (1912)
Windsor McCay And His Animated Pictures (1911)
Making An American Citizen (1912)
The Girl And Her Trust (1912)
The Bangville Police (1913)