thoughts on early films

Hey everyone! My name is Lat, and I’m studying computer science. I like film a lot, especially weird art films that my friends fall asleep during. My favorite film of all time is “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”. It’s an Iranian film styled after my favorite director, Jim Jarmusch, except with less weird sexism.

I’m not sure what I expected from early films, honestly. I kind of knew that early film would have been based off of theater productions, with the fixed-in-one-place shot/view. I didn’t expect that so many things had been made already that were film-like. When you’re looking back on how technology has progressed, it seems natural that it has progressed that way, but when it’s new, it’s very shiny and magical. Of course all of these inventions like kinetiscopes and such happened and then film-as-a-medium happened, of course QWERTY phones happened and capacitative touch screens were used frequently before the iPhone was made. I also thought it was really cool and unexpected that people frequently hand-painted their films!

The Lumiere brothers contributed their combination camera and projector called the Cinematographe in 1895. Auguste Lumier and his brother, Louis, drew inspiration from Thomas Edison’s Kinetiscope camera, which had been invented in 1891. However, their Cinematographe cut down on the time needed to make a film. It was also lighter and more compact than the Kinetiscope camera. The Lumiere brothers also made a film, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory which they screened publicly at L’Eden.

One of the terms I didn’t know about in film was the word ‘diegetic’, which is sound in a film that can logically be heard by a character within the film environment. It might be background noise, traffic, or regular dialogue. Nondiegetic noise is sound which can not be logically heard by a character within the film environment. The most-often cited example of this is a musical score. Lastly, there’s internal diegetic, which is sound which only one character can hear, while others cannot. The best example of this is when Harry Potter was hearing the Parseltongue of the Basilisk speaking to only him in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The Lumieres’ films tended towards more everyday occurrences, similar to home movies. Edison’s films seemed to be based more around a more artsy play. The Lumieres’ films were filmed outdoors, whereas Edison’s films were mainly indoors. Edison’s films were High Art, Serious Feats of Engineering. The Lumieres’ films were for everyone. 

I’m excited to start this semester and learn more about film across decades and continents. I want to learn about the history of film that I might otherwise miss as a casual film viewer. Most of all, I want to talk about films with other people and Think about them harder. Also, I intend to eat a lot of popcorn over the course of this class. 

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