Film Check

Film History, Opinions, and Industry Roundups

Category: Film History

“1888-1908”- The First Theater

          Thomas Edison created a film projector called the vitascope and sold them to many vaudeville theaters as an act.[1] For example, the vitascope played at the Keith’s Bijou Theatre in Philadelphia.[2] However, many times, theaters were not able to use the vitascope due to electrical problems.[3] Across the Atlantic, two French technicians, Auguste and Louis Lumiere were also selling a projector/camera called the cinématographe.[4] The cinématographe was hand-cranked, so it did not have the same electric problem as the vitascope.[5] As mentioned, Edison sold his vitascope to Keith’s Bijou Theater. That same theater later replaced its vitascope with the cinématographe two months later for a 19-week run.[6]

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Kinetoscope parlor. Photo Courtesy from the American Society of Cinematographers.

“1888-1909”- The Kinetoscope

          Thomas Edison and his employee, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, were credited for making many new inventions in filmmaking during this era. They created both the kinetoscope and the kinetograph. The kinetoscope was a four-foot-high box that played film reels on a loop.[1] The viewers paid a nickel to watch a film through the box’s lens peephole. [2] The kinetograph was the first film camera, which used 35mm film. Both Edison and Dickinson created many films, using the kinetograph, at Edison’s studio in West Orange, New Jersey. [3]  These films include Dickson Greeting, Men Boxing, Duncan Smoking, and many other shorts.[4] However, the films were only shown at exclusive events. For example, Dickinson Greeting, which was filmed in 1891, was only shown to members of The Women’s Club of America.[5]

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“1888-1909”- The First Film

         When it comes to the first film, one image comes into the minds of many. The Galloping Horse or The Horse in Motion. These iconic images were one of a series of photographs shot by Eadward Muybridge. In 1872, the governor of California, Leland Stanford hired Muybridge, a famous photographer known for his photos of California, to settle a $25,000 bet about how horses stride. Stanford argued that horses stride with all four feet off the ground at full speed. [1]

Photo Courtesy from the Library of Congress.


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