Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Early Cinema - Primitives and Pioneers

Saw some of the shorts on this fascinating DVD (published by the British Film Institute) yesterday. It's a collection of 60 short movies from 1895 to 1911, ranging from extremely short vignettes and what appeared to be home movies or newsreel clips to excerpts from longer movies. The quality of the images for such old movies is amazing - all clips come from the BFI's National Film and Television Archive.

Accompanying the DVD was a short booklet with some information on each clip - I hadn't realised how many of the early films were actually remakes of even earlier movies (so remakes are far from a modern phenomena!), or live action reproductions of popular lantern slideshows. Very interesting stuff for all movie buffs (not that I really class myself as a movie buff, but I do have an interest in the early days of cinema).

What particularly stuck me was how modern some of the ideas were and even the techniques, primitive though they were, were often recognisable as methods popularly used in cinema today. Most of all I was struck by the excerpt of George Melies' Voyage a travers I'impossible (The Impossible Journey) - the imagination and techniques used were amazing for the time. See it below: (though I guess with Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon being written in 1865 and other visionary sci-fi coming around the same time, perhaps the level of imagination and bravado shown isn't that surprising.)




Early Cinema: Primitives and Pioneers on the BFI website


CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog


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