Thursday 29 July 2010

A Brief Guide To Early Cinema

On A Tuesday morning in 1867, William Lincoln patented the zoopraxiscope. Whilst many people thought it was a form of anti-depressant, it was actually a device which enabled people to watch moving images. Despite Lincoln being the first person to invent a movie camera, Louis Lumiere went on to be yet another first person to invent one. People decided to credit him as the first, on account of his being French.

Lumiere soon realised the true power of his invention, and immediately ordered a medium bucket of popcorn. It's interesting to note that up until the invention of the movie camera, people had been sitting in empty halls eating popcorn for no particular reason. What's even weirder, is how they were constantly moaning about the prices. Lumiere had wonderful theories about developing a style of filmmaking called 'The French Old Wave,' which went on to influence a creative period in the 1950's when a bunch of French directors who'd grown tired of the Old Wave struggled to find a name for their latest style.

Within a few years Lumiere and Edison (another person who was definitely the first person to invent the movie camera) were both screening silent moving images to the general public. Early films were very simple. Some of the classics include "Man Standing Still Looking At Camera," "Small Dog Sleeping," and "Two Middle Class Men Talking To Each Other Whilst Smoking Cigars." These were all big hits. Sadly, Edison soon began to struggle after audiences claimed that "Small Dog Sleeping 2" lacked originality, and at the very least - could have involved some movement.

Lumiere was once quoted as saying, "The cinema is an invention without a future." It's fascinating to know that he came to this conclusion before seeing Eddie Murphy's latest releases. It's important to remember that all of the early films were silent. As technology changed in the 1920's, 'talkies' were introduced. This was generally perceived to be a good thing, but recently there has been a surge in producers clambering for a return to silent cinema again after witnessing a Miley Cyrus monologue in 'The Last Song.'

By 1902, venues were being built specifically for showing films. People would fight for a seat in the packed movie houses to see films like "Fat Lady Walking Along The Platform" and "Jolly Fellow Swinging A Golf Club." These two films, shown together; would only amount to seven minutes of screen time. This would have been a concern for customers, but luckily, just like these days, they had to sit through thirty minutes of trailers.

Care to share?


  1. Nice. I wonder how they would respond to 3-D these days. I think "Small Dogs Sleeping 2" wasn't well recieved because they replaced that cute dalmation with a different one.