The Birth of Cinema

Georges Méliès – L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle (1899)

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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. Read More »

J. Searle Dawley – A Christmas Carol (1910)

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Quote:
Based on the story by Charles Dickens: The day before the Christmas holiday, Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee, and then rudely rejects his nephew when he visits Scrooge in his office. When Scrooge returns home, he sees the ghost of his former business partner Marley, who warns him of the punishment he will suffer in the next life if he does not change his ways. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits, who show him his past, the present, and the future that awaits him. (imdb) Read More »

Thomas A. Edison – Eleven Films (1894-1901)

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Thomas A. Edison
Eleven Films (1894-1901)

Edison Kinetoscopic Record of A Sneeze (1894)
IMDb: link
00:07 (1.1 Mb)

Crissie Sheridan (1897)
IMDb: link
00:37 (6.1 Mb)

Giant Coal Dumper (1897)
IMDb: link
00:37 (6.2 Mb)
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Émile Cohl – Fantasmagorie (1908)

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Description: Cohl made “Fantasmagorie” from February to May or June 1908. This is considered the first fully animated film ever made. It was made up of 700 drawings, each of which was double-exposed, leading to a running time of almost two minutes. Despite the short running time, the piece was packed with material devised in a “stream of consciousness” style. It borrowed from Blackton in using a “chalk-line effect” (filming black lines on white paper, then reversing the negative to make it look like white chalk on a black chalkboard), having the main character drawn by the artist’s hand on camera, and the main characters of a clown and a gentleman (this taken from Blackton’s “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces”). The film, in all of its wild transformations, is a direct tribute to the by-then forgotten Incoherent movement. The title is a reference to the “fantasmograph”, a mid-Nineteenth Century variant of the magic lantern that projected ghostly images that floated across the walls. Read More »

August Blom – Den hvide slavehandel aka The White Slave Trade (1910)


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“Anna, a young girl from a poor but honest household, is offered an attractive position as a lady’s companion in London. Her childhood friend is worried, but she goes anyway. To Anna’s horror, the distinguished house turns out to be a brothel, but she manages to overpower her first customer. A helpful maid smuggles out a letter to her parents, and they alert the League for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic. The childhood friend travels to England and hires a detective. Together, they find the brothel and Anna. They arrange her escape. Anna lowers herself down from her window, but after an automobile chase, the slavers overpower her liberators and abduct her again. Read More »

J. Stuart Blackton – The Enchanted Drawing (1900)

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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. Read More »

Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince – Roundhay Garden Scene & Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge (1888)

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Roundhay Garden Scene is an 1888 short film directed by French inventor Louis Le Prince. It was recorded at 12 frames per second and is the earliest surviving film.

According to Le Prince’s son, Adolphe, it was filmed at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England on October 14, 1888.
It features Adolphe Le Prince, Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley and Harriet Hartley in the garden, walking around and laughing. Note that Sarah is walking backwards and that Joseph’s coat tails are flying. Read More »