A Pictorial History of the Movies

By Deems Taylor; Marcelene Peterson et al. | Go to book overview

2. Griffith Turns a Page
Nineteen fifteen was a momentous year for motion pictures, for it witnessed the production of a film that was, and still remains, a masterpiece of cinematographic art. David Wark Griffith, like Chaplin, is certainly one of filmdom's true geniuses. His very first picture, The Adventures of Dolly, a one-reeler he directed for Biograph in 1908, revealed a sense of situation and dramatic logic rare in those days. An unerring casting director, he introduced many a future star--including Mary Pickford--during his Biograph days. Griffith is the greatest innovator the screen has ever known. Such devices as the close-up, the fade-out, the iris dissolve, back lighting, the soft- focus close-up, the cut-back, and the last-minute rescue are accepted so completely as a matter of course by present-day audiences that it is hard to imagine a time when they did not exist. Yet every one of them results from Griffith's experiments and discoveries from 1908 to 1914. Moreover, he was the first director consciously to treat the motion picture as an art form. His pictures have the indefinable quality of "atmosphere" and are distinguished by masterful lighting and composition. Had he been a painter instead of a motion-picture director, he would have been equally great.

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A Pictorial History of the Movies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Birth and Infancy 1
  • 2 - Griffith Turns a Page 45
  • 3 - The Twenties 97
  • 4 - Comes the Revolution 201
  • 5 - The Talking Picture 213
  • Appendix - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards 339
  • Index 341
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