The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

slides they projected, the spoken word capable of imposing a very different meaning on the image from the one that the producer may have intended. Many exhibitors even added sound effects -- horses' hooves, revolver shots, and so forth-and spoken dialogue delivered by actors standing behind the screen.

By the end of its first decade of existence, the cinema had established itself as an interesting novelty, one distraction among many in the increasingly frenetic pace of twentieth-century life. Yet the fledgeling medium was still very much dependent upon pre-existing media for its formal conventions and story-telling devices, upon somewhat outmoded individually-driven production methods, and upon pre-existing exhibition venues such as vaudeville and fairs. In its next decade, however, the cinema took major steps toward becoming the mass medium of the twentieth century, complete with its own formal conventions, industry structure, and exhibition venues.


Balio, Tino (ed.) ( 1985), The American Film Industry.

Barnes, John ( 1976). The Beginnings of the Cinema in England.

Bordwell, David, Staiger, Janet, and Thompson, Kristin ( 1985), The Classical Hollywood Cinema.

Chanan, Michael ( 1980), The Dream that Kicks.

Cherchi Paolo Usai, and Codelli, Lorenzo (eds.) ( 1990), Before Caligari.

Cosandey, Roland, Gaudreault, André, and Gunning, Tom (eds.) ( 1992), Une invention du diable?

Elsaesser, Thomas (ed.) ( 1990), Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative.

Fell, John L. ( 1983), Film before Griffith.

--- ( 1986), Film and the Narrative Tradition.

Gunning, Tom ( 1986), "The Cinema of Attractions".

Holman, Roger (ed.) ( 1982), Cinema 1900-1906: An Analytic Study.

Low, Rachael, and Manvell, Roger ( 1948), The History of the British Film, 1896-1906.

Musser, Charles ( 1990), The Emergence of Cinema.

--- ( 1991), Before the Nickelodeon.

Transitional Cinema


Between 1907 and 1913 the organization of the film industry in the United States and Europe began to emulate contemporary industrial capitalist enterprises. Specialization increased as production, distribution, and exhibition became separate and distinct areas, although some producers, particularly in the United States, did attempt to establish oligopolistic control over the entire industry. The greater length of films, coupled with the unrelenting demand from exhibitors for a regular infusion of new product, required this standardization of production practices, as well as an increased division of labour and the codification of cinematic conventions. The establishment of permanent exhibition sites aided the rationalization of distribution and exhibition procedures as well as maximizing profits, which put the industry on a more stable footing. In most countries, early cinemas held fairly small audiences, and profits depended upon a rapid turnover, necessitating short programmes and frequent changes of fare. This situation encouraged producers to make short, standardized films to meet the constant demand. This demand was enhanced through the construction of a star system patterned after the theatrical model which guaranteed the steady loyalty of the newly emerging mass audience.

The films of this period, often referred to as the 'cinema of narrative integration', no longer relied upon viewers' extra-textual knowledge but rather employed cinematic conventions to create internally coherent narratives. The average film reached a standard length of a 1000-foot reel and ran for about fifteen minutes, although the so-called 'feature film', running an hour or more, also made its first appearance during these years. In general, the emergence of the 'cinema of narrative integration' coincided with the cinema's move toward the cultural mainstream and its establishment as the first truly mass medium. Film companies responded to pressures from state and civic organizations with internal censorship schemes and other strategies that gained both films and film industry a degree of social respectability.


Before the First World War, European film industries dominated the international market, with France, Italy, and Denmark the strongest exporters. From 60 to 70 per cent of all the films imported into the United States and Europe were French. Pathé, the strongest of the French studios, had been forced into aggressive expansion by the relatively small domestic demand. It established offices in major cities around the world, supplemented them with travelling salesmen who sold films and equipment, and, as a result, dominated the market in countries that could support only one film company.

US producers faced strong competition from European product within their own country for, despite the proliferation of relatively successful motion picture manufacturers during the transitional years, a high percentage


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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