The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson

The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson

The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson

The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson

Synopsis

W.K.L. Dickson was Thomas Edison's assistant in charge of the experimentation that led to the Kinetoscope and Kinetograph--the first commercially successful moving image machines. In 1891-1892, he established what we know today as the 35mm format. Dickson also designed the Black Maria film studio and facilities to develop and print film, and supervised production of more than 100 films for Edison. After leaving Edison, he became a founding member of the American Mutoscope Company, which later became the American Mutoscope & Biograph, then Biograph. In 1897, he went to England to set up the European branch of the company. Over the course of his career, Dickson made between 500 and 700 films, which are studied today by scholars of the early cinema. This well-illustrated book offers a window onto early film history from the perspective of Dickson's own oeuvre.

Excerpt

Through much of the twentieth century authors gave only passing attention to the first years of cinema. There were interviews with surviving pioneers, occasional disputes about who “invented” movies and efforts to promote national champions but by mid-century those interests faded. If the early years were talked about, it was often just a brief homage to recognized pioneers whose work seemed to anticipate the development of cinema as a serious “art”. There were exceptions, of course, but in-depth coverage was unusual. This has changed. in recent years a global community of scholars has been studying and writing about the history and the social and cultural impact of the early years. They have discovered that what once seemed prosaic and incidental is actually a rich and fertile domain that offers new perspectives on the cultural and artistic forces that made the twentieth century so different from its predecessor.

Cinema was a new art and this is a book about it’s beginning; actually, the beginning of the beginning; the emergence and introduction of cinema as we know it today. It examines this period through the work of William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, a central player in creating and shaping moving images as we know them. I have called him “the man who made movies” and while he was not the man who made movies – many people share that credit – during cinema’s earliest years few others contributed as much, as comprehensively as Mr. Dickson. He was an inventor, designer of studios, film producer, founder of production companies, journalist, historian, author and adventurer. His story is a perspective on cinema as it b/p>

My involvement with Dickson can be traced to the late 1950s when I began working with the motion picture collection at the Library of Congress. His films and others from the early years were an important part of the collection and working with them was both enjoyable and fascinating. My interest continued through my thirty-plus years at the Library. the immediate stimulus for this book was a never-realized exhibit to celebrate the centennial of the motion picture which we hoped to mount at the Library of Congress. Dickson’s career seemed an interesting window on cinema’s origins. the exhibit was tabled for . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.