Friday, 6 November 2009

History of Film

The birth of film began in the late 19th century, the Frenchman Louis Loumiere is credited as the inventor of the motion picture camera in 1895. To be precise, he created a 'cinematograph' which served as a film projector and developer as well as a camera. For the first 20 years in the beginnings of motion picture, films were silent and lasted for only a few minutes. However in 1927, after years of experimentation, a means of recording sound that would be synchronous with the moving imagery was discovered. Before this there would sometimes have been live musicians or a commentary spoken by a showman in the cinema as the film played. The first movie containing dialogue was The Jazz Singer. The first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929.

After this technological breakthrough a high majority of films were shot in sound from the 30s onwards, exceptions to this are the films of Charlie Chaplin, who refused to conform to this new era of non-silent films. Famous movies made during this period include: The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong and The Public Enemy (beginning of 'gangster' films). This time was also the beginning of Disney's animated motion pictures when they released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

After the introduction of sound in films the industry continued to grow in popularity. Going to the cinema was becoming less of a luxury and more commonplace amongst western society. Hollywood was now becoming the principal producer of films to large audiences. Several major studio corporations were beginning to form such as Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal and Columbia. This all led to what is now known as 'The Golden Age of Hollywood' during the 40s. American cinema was at its peak of emitting an image of glamour and appealed to international viewers. The first classic 'movie stars' during this period include Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and Shirley Temple.

Due to the industry's success it was not much affected by the Great Depression, World War Two brought on a proliferation of movies as both patriotism and propaganda. Well-known films released at this time include: Casablanca, Citizen Kane made by Orson Welles, It's a Wonderful Life, Great expectations and Oliver Twist.

The 50s Cold War era zeitgeist led to a series of near-paranoia themed films, such as some with plots based on invading armies of evil aliens (War of the Worlds). After this period there was a revival of 'epic' movies, to entice audiences, including Ben-Hur and Spartacus. The fad for 3D only lasted 2 years (1952-1954) and helped sell films such as House of Wax and Creature from the Black Lagoon. During this time a turning point commenced in society of questioning the establishment and societal norms as well as the Civil Rights Movement, this reflected in some films such as 12 Angry Men and On the Waterfront. Other notable movies throughout this decade include Oklahoma!, Around the World in Eighty Days and Cleopatra.

In the early 60s Hollywood films were still aimed at family orientated audiences with box office hits like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. However as the decade progressed more violence and nudity was allowed to be shown on screen. This was the time when the James Bond films were first introduced. The nuclear paranoia at this time prompted the making of films such as Stanley Kubrick's Dr.Strangelove and Fail Safe. By the late 60s however more revolutionary and groundbreaking movies were being made including- Bonnie and Clyde, The good, the bad and the ugly, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy and documentary films including one about the Vietnam War called In the Year of the Pig.

The 70s onwards is now seen as 'New Hollywood' or post-classical cinema, story lines contained more shocking twist-endings and 'noir' tones. These include Rebel Without a Cause, Hitchcock's Psycho, A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection and Dirty Harry. A new group of filmmakers emerged: Steven Spielberg (Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather trilogy) and George Lucas (Star Wars movies). Disaster films were also popular including The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. Other cultures were now starting to create popular films such as Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon which inspired many martial arts films after it and the Australian Mad Max films.

Blockbuster films made in the 80s include the Indiana Jones films, E.T, Scarface starring Al Pacino, Terminator and Tim Burton's Batman. In the 90s special effects were more widely used in movies like Titanic and Pixar's animated Toy Story, but more independent films were still popular such as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

Today in the 21st century movie makers continue to entertain and amaze audiences. Notable achievements of modern cinema include The Lord of the Rings based on the novels by JRR Tolkien, The Matrix, Gladiator and The Dark Knight featuring the late Heath Ledger's portrayal as The Joker and the first film to be filmed at least partially with IMAX technology.

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