Books and Movies Reviews

What value is there for you in the study of the cinema of the past David O Selznick

Nick Coe
BA Film & Video

What value is there for you in the study of the cinema of the past?

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Cinema as an art form has stood the test of time for over one hundred years, since the Lumiere Brothers exhibited a series of moving images to the public in 1895.What started off as a documentary-tableau style of moving photography progressed into a contrived and well-planned medium.New filmmakers were pushing the medium further.Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon (1902) showcased a vaudeville style previously only seen in theatres.Edward S. Porter's The Life of an American Fireman (1903) and more so The Great Train Robbery of the same year put forward the idea of story telling through space and time, via the unique technique of editing scenes together.He also hinted at the importance of the protagonist and antagonist to carry the narrative through to the viewer.

The success of these early films aroused the interest in several entrepreneurs who, having seen the great public demand, saw what could turn out to be a great money-spinner.The new place to be was California as the second gold rush began, that is, Hollywood.Atfirst there was a large number of companies set up to cash in on this new industry.However, it was a highly competitive business and a lot of the equipment and talent was owned by a small number of larger companies, such as the Edison Company.This led to a number of small businesses going under or being bought up by the self-sufficient larger companies.By 1920 the system had calmed down somewhat.Hollywood was home to the production side of several large studios such as Universal, Paramount, First National, Loews-Metro (MGM) and Warners.These studios still had their front offices in New York to handle all financial transactions.Their integrated system of production, distribution and exhibition monopolised !
the market and seemed impenetrable to anyone who was not affiliated with the'Ma…

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