In the Early Days… of Cinema

The film industry has given us a lot of movies to appreciate over the years. It’s gone through a lot of development in terms of technology and style, but what has remained the same is the value it plays in the lives of its audience. Let’s take a stroll through history and learn about the beginnings of cinema as we know it.

Not one person invented cinema. In 1891, the Edison Company from the United States displayed a prototype of Kinetoscope which allowed a person to view moving pictures. In December of 1895, the Lumiére brothers were the first to project moving pictures to a paying audience in Paris, France.

Films were very short in length, up to a few minutes at a time. Shown during fairs and in music halls, or a place that can accommodate a screen and darken its room.

The movie subjects usually involve mundane situations and activities within the country, events abroad, very short comedy clips, and newsworthy items. These films required lecturers to explain or narrate to the audience what they’re seeing, and included music in the production. Audience members were encouraged to participate, so it was not an entirely “silent” film as believed.

In the early 20th century, national film industries became more and more popular. The film industries in most of Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia were growing at the same time as American films were gaining more and more popularity. With this rising interest in films, the film production companies were more ready to invest money in the production of their films, as well as marketing, distributing, and displaying them. More production studios and cinemas were constructed to accommodate the masses’ demand for film showings. Though World War I had a great negative impact on the European film industry, the American movie industry held strong.

After the War, films became more narrative when it came to their movies. Plot was introduced to more productions as time when on, telling a story became crucial to making a film. The protagonist and antagonist were introduced, as was the lead character and couple. Actors and actresses were able to exhibit their acting talents due to an increase in movie roles available in the industry. Production houses invested in getting a famous name to place on their movie posters. With the increase of ticket sales, the movie industry was booming and stronger then ever.

Color and synchronized dialogue was introduced in the early 1930s, and the moviegoers were now treated to an auditory experience inside the cinema. They no longer had to read the dialogue onscreen or infer the story based on the exaggerated actions of the actors they were watching. With the added sound to the movies, the US film industry cemented its place as the one to beat across the globe and ushered in the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the 30’s and 40’s, the cinema was the most popular form of entertainment in every country it was available in.

Movies are still one of the most preferred forms of entertainment in our time today. We all owe it to those crucial starting years for starting a much-loved tradition we have today.