The 101 Most Influential Coming-of-Age Movies

By Ryan Uytdewilligen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1. PRE 1920S: FILM IS CONCEIVED

Live theater was the dominant source of entertainment prior to the 1920s. Whether it was a comedy group, a narrative play, or an orchestra; going out to see a show was how people got their kicks. Some shows reflected society or made light of certain situations, but no one ever imagined technology would let them capture these moments and relive them again and again, especially in the comfort of their home.

Over in France in the late 1800s, the Lumière brothers were working hard at their father’s photographic firm when they began to develop the early versions of the movie camera. Though many others were developing similar techniques, the world changed in 1895 when they shot a fifty-second film entitled Exiting the Factory. It was short and simple as it captured men leaving their workplace, but the revolution it would create was extraordinary. The brothers went on tour across the world, showcasing their new invention that could make pictures seemingly come to life. Famously, the brothers would shoot another film entitled Train Pulling into a Station which frightened people in the theater so forcefully that they ran to the back of the room in fear of getting hit.

This type of short one-minute film became a form of cheap entertainment that could be shown as a collection in specialized movie houses called Nickelodeons. The film itself of course had no sound, but there was a live soundtrack to accompany the pictures and create a story.

By the turn of the century, technology was continuing to grow, and dedicated filmmakers pushed boundaries to create narrative stories using close ups, camera movement, and different cuts in different locations.

Two notable people were George Méliès and D.W. Griffith. George Méliès was an early pioneer in horror and fantasy stories, creating surreal sets and bizarre creatures to entertain in short films like the groundbreaking A Trip to the Moon in 1902. His films typically had no plot; they were just an excuse to explore

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