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IB Film - Film History - 1895-1929
The Silent Era can be said to be the most innovative and developing period in film history. During this time, the foundations of film in terms of technology, length, and socio-cultural context were set.  Between 1907 and 1913, a lot of production companies moved from New York City to Los Angeles due to the warm weather that allowed for year-round outdoor production; this gave birth to the Hollywood film industry. 

The costs of the movies, the industrial modes of production (initiated by Thomas Ince) and the bourgeois storytelling conventions (pioneered by Edwin S. Porter and D.W. Griffith) turned Hollywood into a profit-driven enterprise and its movies into commercial commodities. The silent film era is sometimes referred to as the "Age of the Silver Screen". Until 1914, the major national film industries were located in Italy, France and the United States. The war devastated the French and Italian film industries, giving the Americans an upper hand on the global market. It is important to clarify that the idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly just as old as film itself, however because of technical challenges involved, synchronized dialogue was only made possible in the late 1920s with the Vitaphone system. The first "talkie" was The Jazz Singer (1927) Even though the silent era might not have produce the most interesting movies to some, we have to realize and appreciate that without those movies, the film industry would not be where it is at the present.

  

Year History Film
1895 X-rays discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen. The earliest color hand-tinted films ever publicly-released were Annabelle Butterfly Dance (1894), Annabelle Sun Dance (1894), and Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895). In France, two brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the Cinématographe. They held their first public commercial exhibition often considered "the birth of film" when they projected a motion picture onto a screen for the first time. It included 10 short films. Only surviving film with live-recorded sound made to test the Kinetophone was the 17-second Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894-1895) Annabelle Serpentine Dance aka The Sprinkler Sprinkled Waterer and Watered L'Arrouseur Arrose La Sortie des Ouviers de L'Usine Lumière à Lyon Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory Arrivee d'un train en gare a La Ciotat
1896  Alfred Nobel's will establishes prizes for peace, science, and literature. Marconi receives first wireless patent William Jennings Bryan delivers "Cross of Gold" speech Democratic Convention in Chicago. First modern Olympic games held in Athens, Greece. Kiss was the first film ever made of a couple kissing in cinematic history Alice Guy-Blaché (first female film director) made a fictional film La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), consider it the first ever narrative fiction film. First vampire film called Le Manoir du Diable made by French film-maker Georges Méliès 
1897 Theodor Herzl launches Zionist movement.  
1898 Chinese "Boxers," anti-foreign organization, established Spanish-American War begins. Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium and polonium. Start of scale-model effects First major talent agency in Hollywood called the William Morris Agency was founded
1899 Boer War (or South African War): conflict between British and Boers Casualties: 5,774 British dead, about 4,000 Boers. Two of the earliest westerns (or cowboy-related) films were made with 'first' western saloon setting Georges Méliès became the first film-maker to use artificially-arranged scenes to construct and tell a narrative story, with Cendrillon. Méliès developed techniques such as stop-motion photography, double and multiple-exposures, time-lapse photography, "special effects" such as disappearing objects and dissolves/fades. The first known Shakespearean film (King John) was composed of only four short scenes, only the last scene of the King's death survived.
1900 Fauvist movement in painting begins, led by Henri Matisse. Carrie Chapman Catt succeeds Susan B. Anthony as president of National Woman Suffrage Association.  The Eastman Kodak company first introduced the Brownie camera
1901 Queen Victoria dies, and is succeeded by her son, Edward VII. As President McKinley is shot, and is replaced by Theodore Roosevelt.  
1902 Enrico Caruso's first gramophone recording. Aswan Dam completed. Méliès introduced innovative special effects in "Le Voyage Dans LaLune" (1st science fiction; a narrative fantasy of long shots strung together, punctuated with disappearances, double exposures ,other trick photography and elaborates sets)
1903 Wright brothers fly first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Henry Ford organizes Ford Motor Company Edwin S. Porter was the first to use modern film techniques (multiple camera positions, filming out of sequence and later editing the scenes into their proper order) helping to shift film production toward narrative story telling.The Life of an American Fireman The Great Train Robbery
1904 Russo-Japanese War begins Britain and France settle their international differences. General theory of radioactivity by Rutherford and Soddy Georges Méliès released the 1st -reel film, The Impossible Voyage-at about 20 minutes in length (5x longer that the average film)
1905 In Russo-Japanese War, Japan wins and gets control of Korea The Russian Revolution of 1905 begins on "Bloody Sunday" Sailors on battleship Potemkin mutiny; reforms are established by Tsar Nicholas II's in "October Manifesto." Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and other key theories in physics. Cooper Hewitt mercury lamps made it practical to shoot films indoors without sunlight. The British melodrama Rescued by Rover was produced it included suspenseful cutting and traveling shots.
1906 Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer, fixes magnetic North Pole. Earliest surviving example of an animated film was first to use single frame method (20/sec) The world's first feature-length film at 70 mins in length, The Story of the Kelly Gang Edwin S. Porter directed fantasy film Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, using trick photography
1907 Second Hague Peace Conference adopts 10 conventions on rules of war. Financial panic of 1907 in U.S. Oklahoma becomes 46th state. Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon introduces cubism. The first feature-length (90 minutes) film produced in Europe was L'Enfant Prodigue
1908 U.S. Supreme Court, in Danbury Hatters' case, outlaws secondary union boycotts. Model T produced by Ford Motor Company. Union of South Africa established in 1908 as confederation of colonies; becomes British dominion in 1910. The Adventures of Dollie was the first one-reel film directed by D. W. Griffith A Visit to the Seaside was the first commercially-produced film in natural color The first detective films were released in France. The first real horror film, William Selig's 16-minute Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde premiered Fantasmagorie (an animated short film) was considered the first fully animated film.
1909 North Pole reportedly reached by Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded The New York Times published its first movie review (on D. W. Griffith's Pippa Passes) and coined the terms "stars for leading movie players 35 mm was recognized as the international standard film gauge
1910 Boy Scouts of America incorporated. For the first time, Hollywood purchased the rights to adapt a novel from a publisher John Randolph Bray patented the cel process, pioneering true animated cartoons with structured story lines. The first movie stunt - a man jumped into the Hudson River from a burning balloon. The first Frankenstein monster film in the US was Edison's Frankenstein (directed by Searle Dawley)
1911 First use of aircraft as offensive weapon in Turkish-Italian War. Italy defeats Turks and annexes Tripoli and Libya. Chinese Republic proclaimed after revolution overthrows Manchu dynasty. Mexican Revolution Amundsen reaches South Pole. Ernest Rutherford discovers the structure of the atom. The first US 'feature film' was released when the two parts of D.W. Griffith's Enoch Arden were screened together (2x length of films at that time) The first feature-length film (69-minute) was released in the US (the fantasy/horror Dante's Inferno) made by Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe de Liguoro, and Adolfo Padovan Winsor McCay debuted the 1st animated cartoon, Little Nemo in Slumberland (4,000 cels), with each frame drawn individually.
1912 Balkan Wars (1912-1913) London peace treaty (1913) In second war (1913), Bulgaria attacks Serbia and Greece and is defeated Titanic sinks on maiden voyage; over 1,500 drown. New Mexico and Arizona admitted as states. H. A. Spanuth's five-reel production of Oliver Twist was released The German film Night and Ice was one of the earliest disaster films (about Titanic) Saved From the Titanic, a one reel was the second film about the disaster (based upon Dorothy Gibson's true story of her own survival) D. W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley was released; the first gangster organized crime film. Director Enrico Guazzoni's successful two-hour spectacle Quo Vadis? was released
1913 Suffragists demonstrate in London. Garment workers strike in New York and Boston; win pay raise and shorter hours. Henry Ford develops first moving assembly line. Woodrow Wilson becomes 28th U.S. president Armory Show introduces modern art to U.S.; Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase shocks public. Traffic in Souls was the first major American feature-length exploitation sex film (prostitution) D. W. Griffith used filming techniques still used today (altering camera angles, using close-ups in a dramatic way, breaking scenes up into multiple shots, and more) John Randolph Bray's, The Artist's Dream, made in the U.S. used modern techniques, and was the first to use 'cels' - transparent drawings laid over a fixed background. Denmark's Atlantis sank a full-scale boat for realism. One of the most popular films of the silent decades, and a worldwide smash hit.
1914 World War I begins Panama Canal officially opened. Congress sets up Federal Trade Commission Marines occupy Veracruz, Mexico, intervening in civil war to protect American interests. WWI interrupted European motion-picture production and bought it to a halt Lois Weber became the first woman to direct a feature film in the US - The Merchant of Venice Charlie Chaplin's first film: Making a Living. He debuted, his trademark mustached, baggy-pants 'Little Tramp' character in Kid Auto Races At Venice. He became filmdom's first great star.
1915 Lusitania sunk by German submarine. Second Battle of Ypres. Genocide of estimated 600,000 to 1 million Armenians by Turkish soldiers. Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Theda Bara became one of the first "sex symbols" Lois Weber released The Hypocrites depicting full female nudity (praised for its use of multiple exposures and complex film editing) The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation pioneered Technicolor (colour film process) Pioneering D. W. Griffith's 3-hour Civil War epic, The Birth of a Nation premiered. The film popularized the expressive close-up, naturalistic acting, the flashback and other elements (i.e. exciting cross-cutting, a last minute rescue) that endure today as the structural principles of narrative filmmaking. It introduced the historical epic and period piece as a film genre and defined the language of film. It was highly controversial because of its racist theme. It was the first US motion picture shown in the White House
1916 Congress expands armed forces President Wilson re-elected Margaret Sanger opens first birth control clinic Easter Rebellion in Ireland put down by British troops  D.W. Griffith's (most expensive film of all time) monumental epic Intolerance, told with parallel cross-cutting between its four stories (techniques were adopted by Eisenstein and Coppola) The earliest vampire feature film the silent film Nachte des Grauens with vampire-like people. Lois Weber's controversial drama, Where Are My Children?, was about abortion
1917 U.S. declares war on Germany. Third Battle of Ypres February Russian Revolution October Russian Revolution Balfour Declaration U.S. declares war on Austria-Hungary Armistice between Russia and Germany Sigmund Freud's Introduction to Psychoanalysis. The first feature-length motion picture produced in two-strip Technicolor in the US was The Gulf Between John Ford made his first film, The tornado
1918 Russian Tsar and family are executed Russian Civil War German Kaiser abdicates Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. The first Tarzan film, Tarzan of the Apes, premiered Winsor McCay's propagandistic, documentary-style The Sinking of the Lusitania was the first serious re-enactment of an historical event 
1919 Third International Comintern establishes Soviet control over international Communist movements. Paris peace conference Congress formally ends war in 1921. Alcock and Brown make first trans-Atlantic nonstop flight. Mahatma Gandhi begins his nonviolent resistance movement against British rule in India. The technique of test screenings of films to obtain audience feedback was pioneered (Harold Lloyd) Walt Disney teamed with Ub Iwerks to create cartoon animations. Germany's silent expressionistic classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, was released (influenced the classic period of horror films, with its bizarre sets, angular camera angles and make-up) Different From the Others was reportedly the first representation of male homosexuality
1920 League of Nations holds first meeting Women's suffrage (19th) amendment ratified. First Agatha Christie mystery The movement of German film Expressionism was established with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari The Debut of Thomas Cat was the first cartoon, the first animated short genuinely made in colour The Mark of Zorro was the first of many film versions of the 1919 story
1921 German liability fixed at 132 billion gold marks; German inflation begins. Major treaties limit naval tonnage and pledge to respect territorial integrity of China. The Sheik was one of the first of exotic and erotic romance/adventure films for men and women. Charlie Chaplin's The Kid released D.W. Griffith's film Dream Street, with experimental sound has been regarded as the first feature film to use sound
1922 Mussolini forms Fascist government. Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion of British Empire, officially proclaimed. Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, overthrows last sultan  Nanook of the North was the first feature film documentary or non-fictional narrative feature film. Lev Kuleshov experimented with montage (technique pioneered by Russian filmmakers) The Toll of the Sea was the first general release Hollywood feature film to use the improved two-tone Technicolor process. The Power of Love was the first 3-D feature film shown to a paying film audience F. W. Murnau's influential, expressionistic vampire film Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror initiated a trend for Gothic tales of horror The first Walt Disney cartoon was Little Red Riding Hood
1923 Adolf Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich fails Occupation of Ruhr by French and Belgian troops Widespread Ku Klux Klan violence Earthquake destroys third of Tokyo. George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Bessie Smith, known as "the Empress of the Blues," makes her first record. Irish poet William Butler Yeats wins Nobel Prize in Literature. 6-reel comedy-drama The Gold Diggers released. DeMille's first version of The Ten Commandments was the most expensive film ever made and featured the largest set ever constructed in movie history to that time The Fleischer Brothers produced the first feature-length animation (a documentary), titled The Einstein Theory of Relativity.
1924 Death of Lenin; Stalin wins power struggle Italian Fascists murder Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti. Robert Frost wins first of four Pulitzers. Walt Disney directed his first cartoon Alice's Wonderland. The first sound cartoon was one of the Song Car-Tunes, Mother Pin a Rose on Me Erich von Stroheim directed the influential Greed, a 10-hour epic based edited down to 2-hours. He Who Gets Slapped featured the first appearance of the MGM lion (famous lion roar). F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh invented new techniques for a mobile camera.
1925 Locarno conferences John T. Scopes convicted and fined for teaching evolution in a public school John Logie Baird, Scottish inventor, transmits human features by television. Hitler publishes Volume I of Mein Kampf. Sergei Eisenstein directed Potemkin, effectively established the dialectic film montage technique. The silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was notable for its use of a hanging miniature Charlie Chaplin's classic masterpieces was released -The Gold Rush (became the highest grossing silent comedy film of all time) Rupert Julian's expressionistic The Phantom of the Opera set the prototypical style for the studio's cycle of classic horror films in the early 30s The first feature-length dinosaur-oriented science-fiction film to be released was The Lost World. The Big Parade demonstrated one of the earliest uses of a curse word in a US film: "March and sweat the whole damned day..."
1926 General strike in Britain U.S. marines dispatched to Nicaragua during revolt Gertrude Ederle of U.S. is first woman to swim English Channel. Ernest Hemingway's: The Sun Also Rises.  Don Juan was the first mainstream film that replaced the traditional use of a live orchestra or organ for the soundtrack coordinated audio sound The oldest surviving feature-length animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed was released. Flesh and the Devil had love scenes with the first-ever horizontal-position kiss in American film, and the first Hollywood film with an open-mouthed French kiss. The Black Pirate the adventure swashbuckler was the first full-length blockbuster color film (although it was filmed in black and white)
1927 German economy collapses. Socialists riot in Vienna; general strike follows acquittal of Nazis for political murder. Trotsky expelled from Russian Communist Party. Charles A. Lindbergh flies first successful solo nonstop flight from New York to Paris. Philo T. Farnsworth demonstrates working television model. Georges Lemaître proposes Big Bang Theory. Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs in the season; record stands for next 34 years. They're Coming to Get Me was the 1st movie with dialogue or "talkie") using the Movietone system. The first feature film released using the Movietone system was Sunrise, the first produced feature film with an actual soundtrack. The effective end of the silent era of films came when The Jazz Singer, (first widely-screened feature-length talkie) was produced. The first sound news film, was produced. Buster Keaton made his timeless masterpiece The General. His films were noted for their wit, satire, acrobatic agility and stunt-work, and fantasy Abel Gance's film Napoleon experimented with wide-screen and was the precursor to the wide-screen Cinerama process that debuted in 1952. Metropolis (classic dystopian vision of the future) exploited massive sets and lavish set design, clever special effects, stylistic shadowing, oblique camera angles and labryinths, and realistic miniatures and hydraulically-produced flooding, it had the cinematic history's first android or robot. Motion picture film became standardized (24 fps) The Hays Office issued a memorandum, "Don'ts and Be Carefuls," (a code of decency) It was noted as having the earliest known use of a zoom lens in a US feature film, in its opening shot.
1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war, signed in Paris by 65 nations. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. Richard E. Byrd starts expedition to Antarctic (returns in 1930) Anthropologist Margaret Mead publishes Coming of Age in Samoa. Final volume of Oxford English Dictionary published after 44 years of research. The first Mickey Mouse film, Plane Crazy Disney introduced the first animated cartoons with synchronized sound later in this year: Steamboat Willie (first cartoon with post-produced synchronized soundtrack) and Galloping Gaucho. The Lights of New York was the first 100% all-talking feature film. The Singing Fool was released in both sound and silent versions (contained the first hit song from a talking movie, Sonny Boy). The Seashell and the Clergyman the first surrealist film The Cavalier technically the first feature-length sound film completely in Technicolor
1929 Trotsky expelled from USSR Lateran Treaty establishes independent Vatican City. In U.S., stock market prices collapse, first phase of Depression and world economic crisis. St. Valentine's Day gangland massacre in Chicago. Edwin Powell Hubble proposes theory of expanding universe. Un Chien Andalou, on of the first surrealist film Hollywood released its first original musical. The Broadway (musical film genre was born) In Old Arizona was released -- the first full-length talkie film to be shot outdoors and not in a studio. On With the Show was the first full-length, modern sound motion picture produced entirely in color The first important, feature-length sound documentary was the: Melodie der Welt Hallelujah! Introduced post-synchronization Mickey Mouse's first words were spoken in his ninth cartoon short The Karnival Kid Hitchcock's Blackmail was his first sound film (UK's first full-length talking picture) and featured one of his earliest cameo appearances Dziga Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera - an avante-garde film was regarded as "pure" visual cinema. It contained radical hyper-editing techniques, special visual effects, wild juxtapositions of images, and double exposures. Rouben Mamoulian's musical drama Applause was an innovative breakthrough film. It Introduced revolutionary camera techniques (including rhythmically moving and inventive shots, and the use of two cameras at the same time) and experiments with sound (use of overlapping or interlacing soundtracks, sound cues, auditory montages, and background noise)
 

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