Friday, July 27, 2007

The Movies Begin part two

The Movies Begin: A Treasury of Early Cinemas (1894-1913) Volume Two: The European Pioneers, 1895-1906

This disc contains the vital pioneering works of the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, as well as several early British innovators: Robert W. Paul, George Albert Smith, Frank Mottershaw, James Bamforth and James A. Williamson. Many of these short films are what were known as “actualities” – minute documentaries. There are experiments with stop-motion and special effects, even at this early stage.

Here is the first part of the description on the back cover of this DVD, regarding the Lumière films:

“While some consider the cinema a distinctly American invention, the most influential figures during its infancy were two brothers in France: Auguste and Louis Lumière. In the beginning, they dominated world film production and distribution. Through the magic of cinema, such ordinary sights as the demolition of a wall, the arrival of a train, a family enjoying breakfast, or workers exiting a factory were transformed into mystifying spectacles of light and motion, having their premiere on December 28, 1895.”

“Mystifying spectacles of light and motion,” does characterize the aesthetic value of these films. Beyond that, there is the historical value, and the not inconsiderable impact of getting views of “real life” and real people from more than a hundred years ago.

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