Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative

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In the twenty years preceding the First World War, cinema rapidly developed from a fairground curiosity into a major industry and social institution, a source of information and entertainment for millions of people. Only recently have film scholars and historians begun to study these early years of cinema in their own right and not simply as first steps towards the classical narrative cinema we now associate with Hollywood.
The essays in this collection trace the fascinating history of how the cinema developed its forms of storytelling and representation and how it evolved into a complex industry with Hollywood rapidly acquiring a dominant role. These issues can be seen to arise from new readings of the so-called pioneers–Meliés, Lumière, Porter, and Griffith–while also suggesting new perspectives on major European filmmakers of the 1910s and 20s.
Editor Thomas Elsaesser complements the contributions from leading British, American, and European scholars with introductory essays of his own that provide a comprehensive overview of the field. The volume is the most authoritative survey to date of a key area of contemporary film research, invaluable to historians as well as to students of cinema.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute; First Edition edition (November 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851702457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851702452
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

Customer Reviews

An excellent resource for anyone interested in silent films

18 people found this helpful.
 on August 21, 1999
This is an incredibly informative and interesting collection of essays exploring the beginnings of cinema from a mixture of perspectives. While attention is paid to social history and the material conditions of early films, apparatus and venues, most of these essays also do a fine job of theorizing cinematic narrative. Often, books on silent film offer only a contextul and historical analysis, often because critics think of the early cinema as “primitive.” These essays take these early films on their own terms and read them suggestively. As a result, this volume allows film scholars and anyone interested in early film to see how the lessons and experiments of silents not only contributed to but often predicted and surpassed the “classical” cinema’s traditional notion of what cinematic narrative could and should be.

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