Sunday, February 21, 2010

Silent Film Stars - Wallwisher project

Please choose from the following list. Research and create a wallwisher page for your subject. This is due completed by 1st period Friday. You will have time to work on completing the assignment Wednesday. After creating your page, please copy the URL and POST a COMMENT under this post with the URL address so other students can access your work. Please remember to include your name under your post so that you get credit.

Please sign up for the following:

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
Josephine Baker
John Barrymore
Clara Bow
Louis Brooks
Lon Chaney
Gary Cooper
Marlene Dietrich
Douglas Fairbanks
Charles Farrell
Greta Garbo
Janet Gaynor
Jean Harlow
Harold Lloyd
Mae Marsh
Tom Mix
Mabel Normand
Mary Pickford
Paul Robeson
Gloria Swanson
Norma Talmidge
Rudolph Valentino
Conrad Veidt
Erich Von Stroheim

Buster Keaton

It is important to realize that actors back in the early days of film really did their own stunts. Comedy and slapstick particularly were rather dangerous. Here's a homage to Buster Keaton, one of the greatest early film comedians: A Montage of Buster Keaton

Joseph Frank Keaton was given his professional name by Harry Houdini. "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966), was an American comic actor and filmmaker. He got his start as part of a vaudeville act and later co-starred with plump actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in "The Butcher Boy". He is best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was farce or physical comedy with a stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Keaton as one of the greatest male actor of all time. His film The General is listed as one of the greatest 100 films of all time.

For those of you most interested in Keaton's life and work, here's an excellent website.

Take a look at some of his work:

One Week (1920) - part 1
One Week (1920) - part 2 (parts 3-5 can be found on the side bar of
The Goat (1921) (part 1)
The Haunted House (1921) part 1

The General (1927) Full Length Feature Film
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) Full Length Feature Film

Charlie Chaplin - The Lovable Tramp

"All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl." -Sir Charles Chaplin

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889-1977)

• Born in London, UK to theatrical parents
• Chaplin’s childhood was one of extreme poverty and hardship
• Abandoned by an alcoholic father and left with a mentally unstable mother who was unable to support him, he struggled through life in the poor house and on the streets
• He learnt much of his timing and technique in the employment of impresario Fred Karno (1866-1941) whose troupe he left during an American tour in 1913
• Offered a contract by Keystone Films
• After 1914, he convinced Keystone producer Mack Sennett to allow him to direct his own films - often wrote, directed, acted and composed his own musical scores for his films
• In many silent shorts, he established the grammar and ground rules of screen comedy using his physical dexterity and pantomime skills to create expertly choreographed, visually humorous entertainment that mixed irreverence, romance, and pathos (feeling)
• Co-founder of United Artists in 1919
• Married Oona O’Neill (daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill)
• His left-wing sympathies caused him to emigrate to Switzerland during the 1950’s, McCarthy period
• He published his autobiography in 1964 and was knighted in 1975
• Chaplin died on Christmas day, 1977
• A writer Performer, director, composer and icon, he was a vital figure in the development of the screen comedy Films (incomplete list): Making a Living (1913) Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) The Champion (1915) The Tramp (1915) The Pawnshop (1916) The Rink (1916) A Dog’s Life (1918) The Kid (1921) The Gold Rush (1925) City Lights (1931) Modern Times (1936) The Great Dictator (1940) Limelight (1952) A King in New York (1957) A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)

Take a look at some of Chaplin's Films:

The Tramp (1915)
The Kid (1921) trailer
The Lion's Cage clip from the Circus (1928)
The Gold Rush (1925) sound and words added later
City Lights (1931)
Modern Times (1936)
The Great Dictator (1940)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cecil Hepworth & Pathe Freres - English & French influence

Cecil Hepworth (1874 –1953)

Cecil Hepworth:
How it Feels to Be Run Over (1900)
Explosion of a Motor Car (1900)
Rescued by Rover (1905)

• Hepworth was an English film director, producer and screenwriter, he was among the founders of the British film industry and continued making films into the 1920s.
• His father was a famous magic lantern showman.
• He became involved in the early stages of British filmmaking, working for both Birt Acres and Charles Urban, and wrote the first British book on the subject in 1897.
• With his cousin Monty Wicks he set up the production company Hepworth and Co. — later renamed the Hepworth Manufacturing Compnay, then Hepworth Picture Plays.
• In 1899 they built a small film studio in Walton-on-Thames. The company produced about three films a week, sometimes with Hepworth directing.
• Rescued by Rover (1905) was a huge success at the box office, starring a collie in the title role. The film is now regarded as an important development in film grammar, with shots being effectively combined to emphasise the action. Hepworth was also one of the first to recognize the potential of film stars, both animal and human, with several recurring characters appearing in his films.
• The company continued making popular films into the 1920s.
• The company went public to fund a large studio development but lost money and closed.
• Tragically, all of Hepworth's original film negatives were melted down.

Pathe Freres (brothers)

Charles Pathé (1863-1957), French motion-picture magnate, who, in the early 20th century, was the first to create a system for mass-producing motion pictures.

Aladdin & the Magic Lamp

• Pathé began his career as an importer and merchant of the phonograph in France.
• He extended the business to include projectors and films, creating the company Pathé Frères in 1896.
• By 1901 he concentrated on film production, together with French director and producer Ferdinand Zecca.
• Pathé made films rapidly and reinvested the profits back into the business to improve the technical quality of his films.
• By 1905 the company was employing numerous production teams of scriptwriters, set builders, cameramen, directors, and actors, making short films in an assembly-line process.
• Pathe Company opened in New York in 1904 as a subsidiary of Pathe Freres (Bros.) in France and boasted a catalogue of 12,000 titles.
• In 1909, Pathe was asked to join Edison in forming the Motion Picture Patents Company to try to shut out smaller studios.
• In 1911, Pathe issued Pathe Weekly which was the first US newsreel.
• The upcoming of WWI took its toll on the company. Pathe ceased production in the US in 1914.
• In 1915, the Pathe Freres temporarily moved its headquarters to New York and changed its name to Pathe Exchange, Inc.
• In 1923, Pathe Exchange sold for 26 million Francs and came under the control of Merrill Lynch.
• In 1926, Joe Kennedy buys controlling interest in Pathe Exchange, and soon becomes president and a director.
• In 1930, Pathe Exchange merges with PDC, K-A-O and DeMille to become RKO

D. W. Griffith (& Lilian Gish)

Please watch these clips and take notes in your journal/notebook to answer: Who is D.W. Griffith and why is he important to film history?

D.W. Griffith - The Great Director
The Great Director - Part 2 (clips from Birth of a Nation - please watch)
The Great Director - Part 3 (clips from Intolerance - please watch)
The Great Director - Part 4

D.W. Griffith was called the "Father of film technique" & "the man who invented Hollywood"

With cinematographer G.W. Bitzer, he created and perfected the film devices:
the iris shot
the flashback

He directed the very controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915) Based on Thomas Dixon's stage play "The Clansman" Over 3 hours long, the racist epic included a cast of hundreds. The film contained many new film innovations:
Special use of subtitles
Its own musical score with orchestra
Introduction of night photography
Used a "still shot"
Used an "Iris shot"
Used parallel action
Used panning and tracking shots
Used close-ups to reveal intimate expressions of actors
Used fade outs and cameo-profiles
Used high-angles and panoramic (extreme) long shots
Used cross cutting between two scenes to create excitement and suspense

A year later his masterpiece Intolerance (1916) was made as a reaction to the censorship of Birth of a Nation

In 1919 he established the film company United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and William S. Hart

Overall, Griffith directed over 500 films. He retired in 1931 and died in Los Angeles in 1948. In 1975 his picture was on a post stamp. But by 1999, The Director's Guild of America's National Board renamed the prestigious D.W. Griffith Award (first given in 1953 to such directors as Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, and Cecil B. DeMille) because of Griffith's racism.

"We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare."
D.W. Griffith (1915)

"If in this work we have conveyed to the mind the ravages of war to the end that war may be held in abhorrence, this effort will not have been in vain." - D. W. Griffith (1915)

You are welcome to watch the rest of the film (parts 5 & 6) if you wish. Otherwise, please take a look at these clips and films starring Lilian Gish.

Way Down East (1920) Probably the most amazing stunt ever pulled in cinema history. Please realize that these actors really were doing their own stunts. That water is cold and yes, those are ice floes.

Orphans of the Storm (1921) (with sister Dorothy Gish)
Judith of Bethulia (1913) (entire film)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Film History - Part 3

After viewing Edwin S. Porter's "The Great Train Robbery", please follow the instructions below and complete the assignments:

Please complete film history, part 2 for today's class. (See below (Friday, Feb. 5) for ?'s)

If you finish early, please answer the following, our last part of film history before 1920:

1. What was the result of the anti-trust laws in regards to the MPPC?
2. Who was Carl Laemmle? What was the name of his company?
3. Who was dubbed "America's Sweetheart"?
4. What sort of plot or characters could be found in the early movie serials?
5. Who was Thomas Harper Ince? What kinds of pictures did he specialize in?
6. Who is considered the "King of Comedy"?
7. Which comedians got their start with Keystone?
8. Name 3 of Charlie Chaplin's early films.
9. Who was D. W. Griffith?
10. Name the key actors, producers, and directors who created United Artists.
11. Who was Lois Weber? Name 3 of her films.
12. Who was Francis Marion? Name 3 films she wrote.
13. Name the 5 major studios before 1930. What advancements or innovations did they allow for in film of the time?
14. Name the 3 little studios.
15. When was Walt Disney studios created? Where was it located?

Please complete these questions for Thursday as HOMEWORK!

Film Viewing. Please take a look at these clips and films from before 1920. Choose 1 American film and compare/contrast it to a British or French film below. Your comparison should be included in your homework and be about 3 paragraphs in length.

1. Edwin S. Porter's: The Life of an American Fireman (first American "documentary" - 1903)
2. Edwin S. Porter: Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1907)
3. Edison Co.'s: A Christmas Carol (1907)

British and French Filmmakers:
1. Rough Sea at Dover by Birt Acres (1895) documentary
2. Cecil Hepworth: How it Feels to Be Run Over (1900) and Explosion of a Motor Car (1900)
3. Alice in Wonderland (1903) by Cecil Hepworth
4. "Blackfriar's Bridge" (1896) by R. W. Paul (documentary)
5. A Trip to the Moon by George Melies

Friday, February 5, 2010

Film History - Part 2

Please read Tim Dirks' Filmsite. Start here. Use the arrows at the bottom of the webpage to go to the next section.

1. What was the name of the Lumiere Brothers camera? What was unusual about it?
2. Name some other projecting machines and their date and inventor.
3. What were early movie theaters like? Describe them.
4. Who was George Melies? How did he contribute to film making?
5. Name some other film production companies rivaling the Edison Company.
6. What innovations did the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company create for film?
7. Who was dubbed "The Father of Story Film"? What did he do that is important? Name a few of his films.
8. What is a "Nickelodeon"?
9. Choose one of the first feature length films in American cinema. Provide a brief description and details about the film.
10. Who was D.W. Griffith? How did he influence film? Name 3 of his films and their dates.
11. How did big business influence early film?
12. What was the MPPC? What companies belonged to this trust?
13. Name 3 independent film companies. Which ones are still around today?
14. Why did filmmakers and producers want to move west? Describe Hollywood before and after the arrival of the major film companies.
15. What was Kinemacolor?

Please answer these questions (due Tuesday).

More Beginnings of Film History...

Please complete the 15 questions assigned from last class. Also, please make sure you have a chance to view the posted film clips.

Early film was little more than the thrill of capturing "real life." Finally, through technology, photographers were able to depict reality in a way never before possible. This had many uses. For one, it allowed people to witness strange or exotic locations, cultures, or people. Now someone who lived in New York City didn't have to spend a month on a steamer boat to visit far-away-lands. Presidents could be seen without having to campaign in your home town. Life could be seen as it really was.

Watch a few more films from the early 1900's. These "actualities" are little more than moving snapshots.

Native Americans
The inauguration of President McKinley (1901)
Moscow Clad in Snow (1906)
Skyscrapers of New York (1903)
Statue of Liberty (1898)

Lumiere Brothers

Lion, London Zoological Gardens (Lumiere Bros) (1895)
Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (Lumiere Bros) (1895)
Arab Cortege (Lumiere Bros) (1896)
The Sprinkler Sprinkled (Lumiere Bros) (1895)

Important Film History Dates:

The following are important events, inventions, and their inventors that helped create the film industry. We played with many of these devices in class. You should be familiar with them.

Magic Lantern: Invented in the 17th century by Athanasius Kircher. The magic lantern projected pictures on a screen.

Thaumatrope: Invented by Dr. John Ayrton Paris in 1824; utilized the theory of “persistence of vision”

Fantascope, Phenakistiscope (“spindle viewer”), Fanatoscope: invented by Belgian nventor Joseph Plateau. Daedalum (Horner 1834)/Zoetrope (Lincoln 1867)

Daguerreotype: Invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Monde Daguerre. The process of capturing images on silvered, copper metal plates - the beginning of photography.

Celluloid: Invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt. Strips of thin film which could be developed with pictures.

Praxinoscope: Invented in 1877 by Charles Emile Reynaud. A film projector.

Light Bulb: Invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.

One of the first pioneers of “film” was the artist/inventor Eadweard Muybridge: 1830 - 1904. He used several cameras to take a sequence of shots Film was cut into strips and used in a praxinoscope. Muybridge invented his Zoopraxiscope, photos printed on a glass disc that rotated, to create the illusion of moving images.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Personal Response & the Origin of Film

Last class you looked at the top 100 movies of all time list. You noted which films you had actually experienced, which ones you heard about, and which ones you'd like to see. Write a short response (1-2 pages) during 1st period in which you answer:

1. After reading through the list, make some personal observations. How "literate" are you when it comes to "best" or top films of all time? Does there seem to be a pattern or genre bias in this list?
2. How does our own culture, socio-economic status, gender, or age affect the way we approach films?
3. Were you surprised to see these films on this list?
4. If you were to write this list, what movies would you put on it that were not included (feel free to indicate your top ten favorites of all time)?
5. What genre of film do you prefer? Examine why.

Write a short personal essay trying to answer these questions. Put your name on the file and send it to the drop box. (Our printer is still down).

If you finish early, please work on this:

Early Technology & Inventors:

Please read and research film technology. It is important to understand the technological history of film as an art form, for it shapes our culture and has become such an important element of our lives.

Find out the following (to write down and turn in as participation credit):
1. What is a Zoetrope? How did it work? Who invented it and why?
2. What is a praxinoscope? How did it work? Who invented it?
3. What is a kinetoscope? How did it work? Who invented it?
4. What is a cinematographe? Who invented it?
5. What is a mutoscope? How did it work? Who invented it?
6. What is a vitascope? How did it work? Who invented it?

then visit the FILM HISTORY website. Find out the following:

7. What was a magic lantern? Who invented it and when?
8. What was a thaumatrope? Who invented it?
9. What invention did Joseph Plateau invent? How did it work?
10. Who invented celluloid?
11. Who was Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904)? How and why is he important to the history of film?
12. Who claimed to be the "inventor of film"? Why?
13. Explain Thomas Edison and William K.L. Dickson's contribution to film history.
14. What was Thomas Edison's studio's name? Where was it located?
15. Name a few titles of the earliest films.

These questions are due to be handed in by Friday.

Watch a few early films:
The Kiss (1900)

Serpentine Dances (1895)

Sando the Strongman and other Edison Films (repeats of Serpentine Dances & the Kiss)

Dickson's Experimental Film (1894)

Lumiere Brothers Films

Two Fencers (1891)
Turkish Dance (1898)
Falling Cat (1890)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Introduction to Film

Again, welcome to Film Studies. Please turn in your film reviews.

Last year we covered a variety of important terms. Take a moment (a few minutes) and try to remember the following:

Diegetic sound:
Nondiegetic sound:
Narrative Film:
Sound Track:
Cutting (a.k.a. Editing):
Invisible Cutting:
Shot/Reverse Shot Technique:
Camera Angle: (High Angle, Low Angle, Bird's Eye (Omniscient), Eye-level angle, etc.)
Distance: long shot, full shot, medium shot, close up, etc.
Establishing Shot (a.k.a. "Master Shot")
Camera Movement
Dolly Shot:
Zoom Shot:
Lighting: (High Key, Low Key)

In a narrative film, all the events that we see and hear, plus all those that we infer or assume to have occurred, arranged in their presumed causal relations, chronological order, duration, frequency, and spatial locations. Opposed to plot, which is the film's actual presentation of certain events in the narrative.

In a narrative film, all the events that are directly presented to us, including their causal relations, chronological order, duration, frequency, and spatial locations. Opposed to story which is the viewer's imaginary construction of all events in the narrative.

Enough of that for now. Let's cover a few important websites! You will need a notebook or journal to take notes. Write down stuff (it helps make the time go faster and you might learn something).

The BEST 100 Films of All Times - A Personal Response by YOU!

Please go to the link (on the left side of this article): Film History.

For our class, this website by film historian Tim Dirks, will provide you with a lot of excellent information. We will be using the link throughout our course as a reliable source of information.

Today, I'd like you to spend some time reviewing the top 100 movies of all time. Please read Dirk's information, take a look through the list and note the following:

1. Which films on this list have you personally seen?
2. Which films on this list have you heard about, but never had the chance to see?
3. If a movie looks interesting to you, please jot down its title in your journal.

After reading through the list, make some personal observations. How "literate" are you when it comes to "best" or top films of all time? Does there seem to be a pattern or genre bias in this list? How does our own culture, socio-economic status, gender, or age affect the way we approach films? Were you surprised to see these films on this list? If you were to write this list, what movies would you put on it that were not included (feel free to indicate your top ten favorites of all time)?

What genre of film do you prefer? Examine why. Go ahead and look through the various lists of top films--you may finally find some you know.

Write a short personal essay trying to answer all these questions (due at the end of class).

HOMEWORK: Please read the article "The Birth of Film" - Highlight and take notes in your notebook about important key concepts you found in the article. On Wednesday we will go over this information as a class. Write at LEAST one thing you learned from the article on an index card (to be handed in).

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...