make products best fitted for international consumption. For example, Hays talked about 'drawing into the American art industry the talent of other nations in order to make it more truly universal', and this explanation is not wholly fatuous. Whether or not it was the original intention behind Hollywood's voracious programme of acquisition, the fact that the studios contained many émigrés (predominantly European) probably allowed a more international sensibility to inform the production process. Whatever the reasons, Hollywood's particular achievement was to design a product that travelled well. Even considering the studios' corporate might, without this factor American movies could not have become the most powerful and pervasive cultural force in the world in the 1920s.
In addition to the explosion of film commerce that characterized the first three decades of the century, the silent period was also marked by the widespread circulation of cinematic ideas. No national cinematic style developed in isolation. Just as the Lumières' apprentices carried the fundamentals of the art around the globe within a year, new approaches to filmic expression continued to find their way abroad, whether or not they were destined for widespread commercial release. The German and French industries may not have been able to compete with the Americans abroad, but their products nevertheless circulated in Europe, Japan, China, and many other markets. The Soviets professed their admiration for Griffith even as they developed their theories of montage, while Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were held spellbound by Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin ( 1925). By the time sound arrived, cinema all around the world was already capable of speaking many languages.
Jarvie, Ian ( 1992), Hollywood's Overseas Campaign.
Thompson, Kristin ( 1985), Exporting Entertainment.
Vasey, Ruth ( 1995), Diplomatic Representations: The World According to Hollywood, 1919-1939.
The summer of 1914 witnessed the opening of the Panama Canal, the start of production on D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. Each of these events, in its own way, would tangibly influence the course of film history. The canal would stimulate the development of the US shipping industry, providing the film industry with an infrastructure for greater international distribution. Griffith's film would contribute to the transformation of film production practices and distribution techniques, all of which helped the US industry to triumph over its European competitors. And the Archduke's fate triggered the Great War, realigning the global political economy and helping to destroy the once internationally prominent film industries of France, England, and Italy.
The contours of international political, economic, and cultural power emerged from the war fundamentally transformed. Changes of a magnitude almost unthinkable before the war appeared on the political front in the form of a republic in Germany, a revolutionary government in Russia, and women voters in the USA and Britain. The USA grew from a pre-war parochial and introspective giant, lacking the vision and shipping resources for world trade, into an assertively international dynamo, armed with ample product and the means to deliver it. The balance of international political power, banking, trade, and finance had decisively turned in the USA's favour. The cultural upheaval created by the war was equally profound. Simply put, the war hurled Europe into the twentieth century. Social hierarchies, epistemological and ethical systems, and representational conventions all changed radically between 1914 and 1918. The very concepts of time, space, and experience, recast by the writings of Einstein and Freud, found something close to mainstream tolerance in the form of Cubism, Dada, and Expressionism. But just as significantly, the old, élite cultures of Europe gave way in many sectors to the new mass culture dominated by the United States.
The motion picture industry came out of the war as both emblem and instrument of the cultural and economic realignment that would characterize the remainder of the century.
In broad terms, the pre- 1914 domination of international production and distribution by the French, Italians, and English gave way by 1918 to the expansionist interests of the US studios and a very different vision of the cinema. The war not only disrupted the trade patterns so crucial to the traditional European powers, it also exacted a heavy price in terms of the lives, material, and ongoing experimentation so vital to film production. And, in very different ways, it assisted in the successful