Entertainment: Motion Pictures 1900-1940

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Picture, but no sound. Words like bang,boom and pow appear on the screen. This was the introduction to the ever popular motion pictures. The movies may have started out as nothing but between 1900 and 1940 the world of motion pictures flourished and matured into the greatest form of entertainment known.

Photographing was beginning to catch the interest of the world during the late 19th century. Experiments in photographing movement had been made in both the United States and Europe. These countries were not trying to exploit their technological and commercial possibilities. “The first motion pictures made with a single camera were by E. J. Marey, a French physician, in the 1880s, in the course of his study of motion. Marey's inventions regarding what came to be motion picture cameras and projectors, which he used to supplant the inadequacies of human vision, helped establish the narrative cinema, the cinema of illusion and storytelling” (History of motion pictures 1).

The Frenchman Louis Lumiere is often credited as inventing the first motion picture camera in 1895. But in truth, several others had made similar inventions around the same time as Lumiere. What Lumiere invented was a portable motion-picture camera, film processing unit and projector called the Cinematographe, three functions covered in one invention. In 1895, Lumiere and his brother were the first to present projected, moving, photographic, pictures to a paying audience of more that one person. ( History of the Motion Pictures 1).

In 1889 Thomas Edison and his staff developed the kinetograph, a camera using rolls of coated celluloid film, and the Kinetoscope, a device for peep-show viewing using photographs that flipped in sequence.(History of the Motion Pictures 2) . The Kinetoscope became popular in many arcades. Experimentation developed ways in which moving images might be shown to more than one person at a time. The zoopraxiscope was the first machine that was patented in the United States and showed animated pictures or movies. The zoopraxiscope was also called the "wheel of life". Patented in 1867 , moving drawings or photographs were watched through a slit in the zoopraxiscope. However, this is very different from motion pictures of today. Modern motion picture making began with the invention of the motion picture camera.

Until World War I, European filmmakers dominated the world film market. France was considered the leading film-producing country, though Italy, Denmark, and other countries also played a significant role. However, the war, fought on European soil, disrupted the progress in filmmaking there. With a sudden drop in European film exports, other countries, such as Latin America, experienced a brief jump in film production. But U.S. companies soon took over markets overseas, using the same tactics of mass production and lower prices that the Europeans had used By the 1920s almost all of films screened around the world came from the United States.

At first the screenings formed part of plays and arcades, but in 1902 a Los Angeles shop that showed only moving pictures had great success. Soon movie houses, which were converted shop rooms, sprang up all over the country. The first movie theater, which included many luxuries and a piano, was built in Pittsburgh in 1905. A nickel was charged for admission, and the theater was called the Nickelodeon. An industry developed to produce new material and new forms of entertainment.

The earliest films were used mainly made to portray contemporary attitudes, fashions, and events, and ran no longer than 10 minutes. At first, simple actions were filmed, then everyday scenes and gag films, in which a practical joke is staged, were also filmed. The camera was first used in a fixed position, then it was moved into different angles. Soon it was pivoted, or panned, on its tripod or moved toward or away from a subject. The filmmakers were beginning to see the art in film production.

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