English Film Industry: Early-20th Century (1900-20)

Figure 1.--Here we see British kids on Saturday afternoon ready to see a film at the Palace in 1919. A Saturday afternoon treat was already a well establid treat. Notice that rather than palatial, it looks to be a very bare bones cinema. The movie they are about to see is decidely non-PC, at least the title. We can't finf much information about the film. We thought it might be about Africa, but apparenly it is about a horse or car race. It seems to have been made about 1912. Apparently old films were shown for the nippers Saturday matanees. The boys are dressed up for the movies. Quite a nymber are wearing Eton collars. Also notice that flat caps are more common than dchool caps. This may suggest a working-class neigborhood.

After the turn-of-the 20th century, film makers took the next step, producing narrative films, movies which told stories. These were at first still short running films, mostly comedies and melodramas. Some of the most popular film makers were the Bamforths in Yorkshire, William Haggar in Wales and Frank Mottershaw. The later's film, "A Daring Daylight Robbery" was the first chase genre--something that could not be staged in the live theater. The early films were very melodramatic in tone. And the public seemed to have a distinct preference for stories that they already knew such as Shakespeare and Dickens. American films were shown from a very early point. A saturday afternoon visit to the movies seems to have become a popular treat for the kids (1910s). We are not sure this was the case in the 1900s, but it certainly was by the 1910s. Btitain was one the first countries to develop important film industries, the others were America and France. Germany during this early period lagged behind. Early silent film making was internatiinal in chracter. No mater what language a film was made in, the narative text frames could easily be done in another language.


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Created: 6:05 AM 8/16/2012
Last updated: 6:05 AM 8/16/2012