The BFI’s fascinating collection of 60 short films all made before 1911 comes to DVD with the aim of giving wider access to some of the extraordinary film material held in the National Film and Television Archive, much of which has been restored. Although most films made at this time were actualities and newsreels, this collection contains mostly fiction films, ranging from the dramatic to the comic and the fantastical.
This double-disc set provides an entertaining look at how many film devices such as the close-up, the cut-away and editing, were first invented by film-makers before the turn of the century. Continue reading
Although Georges Méliès’ The Conjuror (L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle) was was one of his earliest movies, it’s also an excellently realized example of Méliès’ basic style of cinematic magic.
The Conjuror revisits a scene that Méliès had explored before, and is basically a cinematic adaptation of the traditional magic trick “making the assistant disappear”. Méliès first presented this scene in his 1896 film The Vanishing Lady, which used simple camera stop-substitution to achieve the affect (no motion involved, and no in-camera dissolve). Méliès revisited the idea in his 1898 film The Magician, which made further use of the substitution effect, which by that time was only one of many effects that Méliès was using in his films. Continue reading
Thomas A. Edison
Eleven Films (1894-1901)
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of A Sneeze (1894)
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Crissie Sheridan (1897)
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Giant Coal Dumper (1897)
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The Enchanted Drawing is a short film made in 1900. It was directed by J. Stuart Blackton, an American film producer of early silent films, the founder of Vitagraph Studios and an early animator.
Upon a large sheet of white paper a cartoonist is seen at work rapidly sketching the portrait of an elderly gentleman of most comical feature and expression. After completing the likeness the artist rapidly draws on the paper a clever sketch of a bottle of wine and a goblet, and then, to the surprise of all, actually removes them from the paper on which they were drawn and pours actual wine out of the bottle into a real glass. Surprising effects quickly follow after this; and the numerous changes of expression which flit over the face in the sketch cause a vast amount of amusement and at the same time give a splendid illustration of the caricaturist’s art. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
EXPERIMENTATION AND DISCOVERY (vol. 3 of THE MOVIES BEGIN) Dir. (various). U.S. and Europe. 1898-1910. Color-tinted, B&W. Frequently comical, often risque, and sometimes just plain baffling, the twenty films of this anthology challenged the precepts of the visual representation of narrative, thereby inventing the photographic and editing techniques that would quickly become accepted as cinematic syntax. Includes Peeping Tom (1901), History of a Crime (1901), How It Feels to be Run Over (1900), and The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906).
More than any other decade, the first ten years of the moving picture saw the greatest amount of experimentation and development. Ranging from the ingeniously creative to the audacious, the films represented in this volume offer a sampling of the primitive masterworks that allowed the technical novelty of the cinema to so quickly flourish into an artistically expressive medium. Continue reading