Edison: The Invention of the Movies (1891-1918)

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History Documentary hosted by cast themselves, published by KINO International in 2005 - English narration

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Image: Edison-The-Invention-of-the-Movies-1891-1918-Cover.jpg

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Commercial motion pictures were invented at the Edison Laboratory between 1888 and 1893. They were actually a system of inventions: a camera, a viewing machine (the peep-hole kinetoscope), and equipment for printing, sprocket punching, and the developing of long strands of film. Perhaps none of these component parts was strictly new, but the ability of Edison and his staff to reorganize them for a specific purpose was an extraordinary technological and cultural achievement. Within a year, Edison had launched motion pictures as a commercial enterprise, remaining in the business until 1918 - a 30 year involvement in motion pictures. During that period, the technical system underwent alteration and improvement: the development of the "Latham loop," which enabled the system to handle large quantities of film; the introduction of projection; a reframing device for projectors so the film could be kept in frame; and the three-blade shutter, which reduced flicker during projection. Arguably more important was the cultural transformation of motion picture production: the shift in editorial control from exhibitor to production company and the concomitant creation of the filmmaker, the development of story films, the proliferation of specialized motion picture theaters (often called nickelodeons), and the eventual emergence and dominance of feature-length films. In 1894, Edison was the sole producer of motion pictures in the world. By 1918, the contributions of his company to film culture had become marginal, both financially and in terms of its overall place in the American industry. The film industry underwent tumultuous development and change over these three decades. During this period, the filmmaking achievements and fortunes of the Edison Manufacturing Company fluctuated widely. By the end of 1895, motion pictures had ceased to be profitable, perceived by many to be a passing novelty or fad. Then, projection renewed interest and expanded income; even so, the following years continued to be ones of boom and bust. Edison almost left the business in 1900, coming close to selling his motion picture interests to the rival American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. When the deal faltered, he opened a Manhattan studio and his company once again became America's preeminent film producer-in part because his legal team put many rivals out of business. The business faltered again in 1908 and1909, but by 1911-1912, Edison films were once again considered among the best. Many Edison films continued to impress critics and audiences alike as the company employed such accomplished directors as John Collins (who died in the 1919 flu epidemic) and the young Alan Crosland (who later directed The Jazz Singer, 1929). This four-DVD set offers, for the first time anywhere, a wide selection of Edison motion pictures, from the earliest film experiments to what has sometimes been called the last Edison feature film to be released: The Unbeliever (Crosland, 1918), featuring Erich von Stroheim. The films in this collection are presented in chronological order, allowing the viewer to follow the progression of Edison filmmaking over a 28-year period. We provide credits and program notes for each film, but groups of films are also introduced by some more general comments about filmmaking activities at Edison and in the industry more broadly. These usually cover several years at a time (e.g. 1890-1891, 1894-1895). Given the number of titles in this collection, the program notes for each film are inevitably brief, and the credits are by no means exhaustive. In the early years, films were offered for sale under variant titles and, where appropriate, we have listed them. In some cases, a film was never assigned a formal title at the time of production, and so, for purposes of identification, we have provided a title in brackets. Film credits, to the extent available, take two general forms. Before 1909, filmmaking at the Edison Manufacturing Company was usually a collaborative activity involving two individuals who were central to the creative process. Indeed, reliance on such partnerships began with the very invention of motion pictures (Thomas A. Edison and W. K. L. Dickson) and initial commercial production (Dickson and William Heise). Therefore, for the period through 1908, we credit these individuals as "filmmakers," to the extent their names are known. In the 1890s, the making of nonfiction subjects often involved a producer and cameraman. With the rise of fiction filmmaking in the early 1900s, the cameraman was joined by a stage director, and yet their roles were more diverse and often more collaborative than these titles would suggest. Stage manager George Fleming was also a scenic designer, while Edwin S. Porter was not only a cameraman, but also the studio head. They routinely selected and developed the film's premise, gag or story in tandem. For this reason, crediting these individuals as "filmmakers" rather than "director" or "cameraman" is sufficiently broad and flexible to be appropriate. Sometimes, J. Searle Dawley and Edwin S. Porter are credited as the directors of films made in 1907-1908. In truth, they were not only co-directors; they were co-filmmakers. After 1908, the industry became more systematized and hierarchal. For this reason it is appropriate to employ modern-day credits (director, writer, cameraman, etc.) for these later films. By this time, films also had specific release dates. After 1911, the Edison Company promoted its leading actors, noting them in the film's intertitles and advertisements. Before that date, the names of actors were known only irregularly and through different sources. The names of actors for films made in 1907-1908 are taken from J. Searle Dawley's account books, and some of the names are almost certainly misspelled. During the 1910s, the Edison Company generally promoted the writers, but not the directors or cameramen of its films. To make up for this silence, directors making Edison films between 1912 and 1915 paid for and placed in trade papers (such as the New York Dramatic Mirror) advertisements that listed their recent credits. List of films: 1889 Monkeyshines, no. 1 Monkeyshines, no. 2 1891 Dickson Greeting Newark Athlete Men Boxing 1893 Blacksmithing Scene The Barber Shop 1894 Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze Athlete with Wand Sandow Carmencita Boxing Cats Caicedo with Pole Annabelle Butterfly Dance Cockfight, no. 2 Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph Sioux Ghost Dance Buffalo Dance Hadj Cheriff Glenroy Bros., [no. 2] Louis Martinetti Bucking Broncho Annie Oakley Imperial Japanese Dance Robetta and Doretto, [no. 2] Band Drill Fire Rescue Scene 1895 Billy Edwards and the Unknown Dickson Experimental Sound Film Princess Ali Annabelle Serpentine Dance The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots 1896 Amy Muller The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss Shooting the Chutes Fatima, Muscle Dancer Mess Call Inventor Edison Sketched by World Artist Watermelon Eating Contest The Lone Fisherman Interrupted Lovers Feeding the Doves A Morning Bath The Burning Stable Mounted Police Charge Going to the Fire A Morning Alarm Black Diamond Express, no. 1 American Falls from Above, American Side The First Sleigh Ride The Morning Alarm 1897 Fifth Avenue, New York Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory Return of Lifeboat 1898 Troop Ships for the Philippines U.S. Troops Landing at Daiquiri, Cuba Shooting Captured Insurgents The Burglar on the Roof 1899 Firemen Rescuing Men and Women A Wringing Good Joke Gold Rush Scenes in the Klondike 1900 Searching Ruins on Broadway for Dead Bodies, Galveston The Kiss Capture of Boer Battery by British New Black Diamond Express Watermelon Contest A Storm at Sea 1901 Old Maid Having Her Picture Taken Another Job for the Undertaker High Diving Scene Photographing a Country Couple What Happened on Twenty-Third Street Pan-American Exposition by Night Trapeze Disrobing Act 1902 The Burning of Durland's Riding Academy Burlesque Suicide, No. 2 Jack and the Beanstalk Interrupted Bathers 1903 Electrocuting an Elephant Life of an American Fireman Egyptian Fakir with Dancing Monkey A Scrap in Black and White Uncle Tom's Cabin The Gay Shoe Clerk Turning the Tables What Happened in the Tunnel The Great Train Robbery Rector's to Claremont 1904 European Rest Cure How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns Nervy Nat Kisses the Bride Scarecrow Pump The Strenuous Life; or, Anti-Race Suicide The Ex-Convict 1905 The Kleptomaniac The Seven Ages The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog Coney Island at Night The Little Train Robbery The White Caps The Watermelon Patch The Miller's Daughter The Train Wreckers Life of an American Policeman Police Chasing Scorching Auto 1906 The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend Three American Beauties Films of The San Francisco Earthquake The Terrible Kids Kathleen Mavourneen Getting Evidence 1907 The "Teddy" Bears Cohen's Fire Sale The Rivals College Chums The Trainer's Daughter; or, A Race for Love Laughing Gas A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus The Suburbanite's Ingenious Alarm 1908 Rescued From an Eagle's Nest Fireside Reminiscences Cupid's Pranks 1909 The House of Cards 1910 New York of Today How Bumptious Papered the Parlor 1912 Thirty Days at Hard Labor The Passer-by The Totville Eye The Public and Private Care of Infants The Unsullied Shield 1913 At Bear Track Gulch The Ambassador's Daughter A Serenade by Proxy All on Account of a Transfer 1914 The Adventure of the Hasty Elopement 1915 The Wonders of Magnetism Black Eyes The Lone Game 1917 One Touch of Nature 1918 The Unbeliever

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  • Duration: ~3.5h
  • File size: ~3.5 GB
  • Width: 720 pixels
  • Height: 480 pixels
  • Audio: English, instrumental soundtrack
  • Display aspect ratio: 4:3
  • Bit rate: Variable
  • Frame rate: 29.970 fps
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Channel(s): 2 channels
  • Sampling rate: 48.0 KHz
  • Encoded by: Turbojugend
  • Credit goes to: siccoyote

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