American Cinema

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The growth of the film industry.

From the start the film industry was eager to make and show films that people would want to see. The most popular films were those that told stories- narrative fiction films. Film making began to realize that by using different camera angels, locations, lighting and special effects, film could tell a story in the way that live theatre couldn’t.

The great Train Robbery, made in 1903 by Edwin S. Porter, was the first American narrative fiction film. It included the basic ingredients of the Western: a hold-up, a chase, and a gunfight. It used a great variety of shots by showing the action at different distances from the camera- long shots of action in the distance, but also medium shots of the actors shown full-length, and chase-ups of the face and shoulders of a gunman shooting directly at the audience.

Before World War I American film industry had logged behind the film industries of Europe particularly those of France and Italy. But during the war, film making almost stopped in Europe, partly because a chemical used in celluloid was needed for making gunpowder. The American film industry thrived during the war because there was money for making films; and also because of popular the genius of D. W. Griffith. In 1915 Griffith made The Birth Of Nation, a film about the American Civil War and in 1916 he made Intolerance. These three hour’s films were American’s answer to the spectacular Italian films such as Quo Vadis that had earlier astonished the world. For Intolerance Griffith had built a set of an ancient Babylonian city, which was over a mile long, and he photograph it from a balloon. Griffith was a genius, not just because he could show huge and thrilling scenes on the screen, but because he was aware of the artistic possibilities of film.

The actors in the old-sealers had mostly been unknown and their performances very poor. Because the films were silent, actors made up for lack of speech by frantic and unnatural gestures and movements. A new and better style of acting was adopted by a young American actress called Marry Pickford who showed that a simple natural style was more effective on the screen than dramatic arm-waving and chest-thumping. Her fame spread across the Atlantic. In 1918, she signed a contract for more than a million dollars. The stars system was born.

About the same time, some of the slapstick comedians developed unique comedy styles, and also became world-famous stars. Charlie Chaplin, the little man with the derby hat, cane, and boggy pants, became the most famous (he, too, sealed a million-dollar contract). But others such as Buster Heaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon were also widely acclaimed. They were great artists whose work is still popular today. By 1920 the cinema had became the most popular form of leisure activity outside the home.

Film studios such as Metro-Goldwin Meyer, Paramount, Warner’s, 20th Century Fox, and United Artists developed a system for producing films on the same principle that Henry Ford used for his cars- the assembly like Hollywood, on the west coast of the United States, became the center of the film industry. Its climate, light and physical surroundings were suited to the film industry, which shot much material out of doors. Film making thrived. In succeeding years, many great films were made in Hollywood, beginning with the silent films, followed, in the mid-twenties, by the first sound pictures.

The first animated cartoon drawn in the United States especially for film was done in 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton. The first full-length animated feature film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made in 1937.

The stars of the films being produced in Hollywood became known throughout the world. Among them were famous Cagney, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, who had first appeared in films in Germany, the Swedish Greta Garbo and the young Shirley Temple. Some of the most famous stars were Mickey Mouse and characters from Walt Disney’s cartoon. Leading film makers included John Ford, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra and George Cukor.

Реферат опубликован: 15/02/2010