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Birth of Film



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Early Innovators
Georges Méliès
Edwin S. Porter
D.W. Griffith
Online Resources


No medium exemplifies the birth of the modern era like film. The capture and manipulation of the moving image reflected our industrialized and fast moving society. We moved from a society of artisans to an industrialized society with its assembly line manufacturing and homogenization of national culture. Film reflected that shift as people stopped watching local and regional production of plays and capturing images on canvas with oils and brushes and rather, snapped pictures and watched copies of films, the same images being seen around the country. While the artistry so intrinsic to the intimate experience of the stage was lost, for the first time, entertainment became a unifying experience and we finally had a more unified national culture. Stars were born and the cult of celebrity became tantamount. In the beginning, this medium was not considered a vehicle for artistic expression but rather something that captured mundane events. Later, it was used as an extension of the Victorian stage. But more and more, early innovators recognized the potential of film and gave birth to a new language that is dynamic and developing even today, both being influenced and influencing our broader culture.