Motion Picture History

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Before World War I, films were being made mostly European countries and in Japan. When the war interrupted European filmmaking, however, the American film industry began to dominate the world market. In the years between 1917 and 1927 the silent film reached the peak of its development. United States had the largest film industry and American films dominated the international market. Germany and Japan still had some movie industries but mostly left to domestic. Many nations found film production as a matter of importance to national culture, sometimes by limiting on film imports. D. W. Griffith transformed early day of domestic production to an era of Hollywood's worldwide dominance. Major companies that dominated Hollywood were Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers, MGM, Columbia, and United Artists. One of the famous MGM movies was a silent version of Ben Her. Hollywood films became increasingly expensive to make as productions became more spectacular, and the stars demanded enormous salaries. As Hollywood and film industries elsewhere produced hundreds of films each year, certain standardized forms took precedence over individual creative inspiration. Movies adopted categories, known as genres, from earlier arts and popular entertainment. These included comedy, the Western, mystery, horror, romance, melodrama, and the war story. More and more large cinemas were built, and the major producers expanded their distributing systems and bought entire chains of theaters. Major studios attempted to produce a picture a week. A typical film show consisted of a feature starring big-name players, a short comedy, and a newsreel. The 1922 film Nanook of the North, directed by the American Robert Flaherty, is often credited as the first great achievement of documentary film. Most of the films made during this period reflected the fast pace and materialistic concerns of the nation's prosperous "flapper" era. While settings and costumes were often elaborate, film stories were often...
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