Films are beautiful, artistic expressions that move us to celebrate the versatile emotions and experiences of humanity. They allow us to embark on fantastic journeys from the comfort of a plushy theater seat. Simply put, movies make us feel alive, so it’s essential to understand their roots. Below is a quick history of the film industry to help you understand the historical context of the silver screen.
The Birth of Film
In 1893, the Edison Company took the Kinetoscope to the public, hoping for a successful and well-received demonstration. They achieved their goal, as just one year later, the cumbersome device became a commercial success. This invention is widely regarded as the first of its kind, allowing patrons to peer into a small opening to watch a reel of pictures move.
After the Kinetoscope, film quickly evolved into something more recognizable to the movies we watch today; however, early films were often concise with a lifespan of only a few minutes. The subjects of these films often portrayed local scenes and activities and comedies. They didn’t include any dialogue, instead accompanied by lectures and relied heavily on audience participation.
The Golden Age
By the time film hit its sweet spot in the 1930s, Europe and Russia had established behemoth film industries dominating the content produced. The quick films—two to three minutes long—had evolved to become lengthier narratives or fully formed stories by this time. As the popularity of cinema grew, sound and color were added, thrusting the film industry into its Golden Age.
During the 1930s and 1940s, film was the most revered form of popular entertainment available. It was commonplace for patrons to visit the theater at least twice a week. It also wasn’t out of the ordinary for theaters to boast enormous auditoriums, housing over 3,000 people. Because of this massive popularity, theaters often offered film-goers extra facilities, such as cafes and ballrooms.
The Evolution of the Silver Screen
The Golden Age of film ended in the early 1950’s with the introduction of television. But this new medium didn’t kill the industry: it pushed film to evolve. The introduction of the Cinerama and Widescreen cinema forged a new kind of viewing experience. Alongside these screen innovations came stereo sound to give audiences more immersive audio and visual experiences. Of course, this technology later led to IMAX screens, 3D movie experiences, and surround sound.
From CGI and mind-blowing special effects to digital projections that provide rich, crystal-clear images and fluid movements on-screen, digital technology has significantly changed the direction of film. The theater is no longer the only way to view your favorites. With the rise of streaming services and in-home theater experiences, the ever-evolving miracle that is film continues to enrich our lives in various ways.
Movies allow us to delve into the deepest corners of our existence. So, understanding how far they’ve come since their conception is a worthwhile endeavor. Hopefully, a quick history of the film industry has given you some insight on the subject.
Edgar Allan Poe