Tuesday, 14 May 2013

History of The Movies Part 2

The Master at work D.W. Griffith in his trademark hat
The Year is 1908, a new Director who goes by the name of D.W. Griffith, directs his first film called The Adventures of Dollie. This is not a great film yet, Mr Griffith develops a sense of shot composition. He came up with the idea of breaking up scenes into various series of shots and somehow still keep up the action, he thought he could increase the dramatic intensity of his films. He releases a film in 1909 A Corner In Wheat that uses these new ideas of filming, but unfortunately the management at the studio Biograph do not like his new ideas and believe the audience wont get it. So in his anger he goes on his own to make his own California studio and company called Mutual/Reliance Majestic. Guess where this studio is... that is right in a little untouched place called Hollywood.

Lillian Gish in Intolerance 1916
Fast-Forward to 1915 and we now see Mr Griffith ready to release his first independent masterpiece. This film was called The Birth Of A Nation, for the time this film pushed the boundries of what was possible in film making, but it has not aged very well. Birth of a Nation has a very strong sense of racism and historical inaccuracies, so it is not an easy watch I'm afraid. But for what it did in editing and storytelling with various scenes put together it is important for where cinema eventually went.

1916 is now upon us and Mr Griffith releases his next huge epic of a film Intolerance. This film took movie narrative to a whole new level, it tells four parallel stories that are set over four different time periods. It is hailed as a financial disaster because, the audience just do not warm to it. This marks the beginning of the fall of D.W. Griffith, even tho he helped film narrative so much.The film also starred Lillian Gish who was one of the first stars of Hollywood.

After D.W. there is two types of cinema that take off hugely in separate parts of the world. Germany explores expression cinema, while America with its newly found Hollywood goes into comedy and action/adventure.

The wonderful and artistic Dr Caligari
I will save the Hollywood for part 3. The German expression movement is one of my favorites in the history of movies. The German film industry knew how to tell stories in film but, they liked to make them look like art and put some artistic flair in their films. Expressionist cinema relies on the subject of distortion of reality and not really interested in realism. The best films of this era are, the beautiful The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919) (which I have reviewed), Nosferatu (1922) (which I have also reviewed) and Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis (1926). These films established Germany as the best movie makers in the world. They pushed the boundaries of what storytelling in movies could be achieved with an artistic approach.

Next to come in Part Three, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks.

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