motion pictures, movie-making as an art and an industry, including its production techniques, its creative artists, and the distribution and exhibition of its products (see also motion picture photography; Motion Picture Cameras under camera).
Experiments in photographing movement had been made in both the United States and Europe during the latter half of the 19th cent. with, at first, no exploitation of its technical and commercial possibilities. Serial photographs of racehorses, intended to prove that all four hooves do leave the ground simultaneously, were obtained (c.1867) in California by Eadweard Muybridge and J. D. Isaacs by setting up a row of cameras with shutters tripped by wires. The first motion pictures made with a single camera were by E. J. Marey, a French physician, in the 1880s, in the course of his study of motion.
In 1889 Thomas Edison and his staff developed the kinetograph, a camera using rolls of coated celluloid film, and the Kinetoscope, a device for peep-show viewing using photographs that flipped in sequence. Marketed in 1893, the Kinetoscope gained popularity in penny arcades, and experimentation turned to ways in which moving images might be shown to more than one person at a time. In France the Lumière brothers created the first projection device, the Cinématographe (1895). In the United States, similar machines, notably the Pantopticon and the Vitascope, were developed and first used in New York City in 1896.
At first the screenings formed part of vaudeville shows and arcades, but in 1902 a Los Angeles shop that showed only moving pictures had great success; soon "movie houses" (converted shoprooms) sprang up all over the country. The first movie theater, complete with luxurious accessories and a piano, was built in Pittsburgh in 1905. A nickel was charged for admission, and the theater was called the nickelodeon. An industry developed to produce new material and the medium's potential for expressive ends began to assert itself.
The earliest films were used primarily to chronicle contemporary attitudes, fashions, and events, and ran no longer than 10 minutes. At first, simple actions were filmed, then everyday scenes and, pivotally, gag films, in which a practical joke is staged as a simple tableau. The camera was first used in a fixed position, though soon it was pivoted, or panned, on its tripod or moved toward or away from a subject.
The medium's potential as a storytelling mechanism was realized very early in its history. The Frenchman George Méliès created the earliest special effects and built elaborate sets specifically to tell stories of a fantastic nature, usually as a series of tableaux. His Cinderella (1900) and A Trip to the Moon (1902) were major innovative accomplishments. The American Edwin S. Porter demonstrated that action need not be staged for cinema screen as for theater and early realized that scenes photographed in widely separate locales could be cut, or edited, together yet still not be confusing to the audience. His subject matter tended toward depictions of modern life; his Life of an American Fireman (1902) and The Great Train Robbery (1903) are among the first works to use editing as well as acting and stagecraft to tell their stories.
As business increased, the demand for product was met by many new companies incorporated to create the supply. Cooperation among the early filmmakers yielded to the demands of the marketplace, and each company tried to secure continued success through innovations meant to distinguish its product. Out of these efforts developed the star system, the establishment of physical plants (studios) where the films would be made, and the organization of the filmmaking process into interlocking crafts. The crafts people include actors, producers, cinematographers, writers, editors, and film laboratory technicians who work interdependently in a production effort overseen and coordinated by the director.
The Early Years
The first American studios were centered in the New York City area. Edison had claimed the patents for many of the technical elements involved in filmmaking and, in 1909, formed the Motion Picture Patents Company, an attempt at monopoly that worked to keep unlicensed companies out of production and distribution. To put distance between themselves and the Patents Company's sometimes violent tactics, many independents moved their operations to a suburb of Los Angeles; the location's proximity to Mexico allowed these producers to flee possible legal injunctions. After 1913 Hollywood, Calif., became the American movie capital. At first, films were sold outright to exhibitors; later they were distributed on a rental basis through film exchanges.
Early on, actors were not known by name, but in 1910, the "star system" came into being via promotion of Vitagraph Co. actress Florence Lawrence, first known as The Vitagraph Girl. Other companies, noting that this approach improved business, responded by attaching names to popular faces and "fan magazines" quickly followed, providing plentiful, and free, publicity. Films had slowly been edging past the 20 minute mark, but the drive to feature-length works began with the Italian "spectacle" film, of which Quo Vadis (1913), running nine reels or about two hours, was the most influential.
Directors of the day, including D. W. Griffith, Thomas Ince, Maurice Tourneur, J. Stuart Blackton, and Mack Sennett, became known to audiences as purveyors of certain kinds, or "genres," of subject matter. The first generation of star actors included Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Marie Dressler, Lillian Gish, William S. Hart, Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Claudette Colbert, Rudolph Valentino, Janet Gaynor, Ronald Colman, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Lon Chaney, and Will Rogers. During World War I the United States became dominant in the industry and the moving picture expanded into the realm of education and propaganda.
The Hollywood Studio Era
In the post–World War I period the production genius of such men as Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, Adolph Zukor, and Jesse L. Lasky, and the innovative talents of Cecil B. De Mille, Erich Von Stroheim, and Ernst Lubitsch were dominant. The year 1926 brought experiments in sound effects and music, and in 1927 spoken dialogue was successfully introduced in The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. A year later the first all-talking picture, Lights of New York, was shown. With the talkies new directors achieved prominence—King Vidor, Joseph Von Sternberg, Rouben Mamoulian, Frank Capra, and John Ford. Sound films gave a tremendous boost to the careers of some silent actors but destroyed many whose voices were not suited to recording. Among the most celebrated stars of the new era were Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, W. C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers.
Also in 1927 The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences was formed and began an annual awards ceremony. The prize, a figurine of a man grasping a star, was later dubbed Oscar. These awards did much to confer status upon the medium in that they asserted a definable quality of excellence analogous to literature and theater, other media in which awards are given for excellence. The Academy Awards also offered the bonus of gathering many stars in one place and thus attracted immediate and widespread attention. The star system blossomed: actors were recruited from the stage as well as trained in the Hollywood studios.
From the 1930s until the early 1950s, the studios sponsored a host of talented actors, foremost among whom were Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Charles Laughton, Barbara Stanwyck, William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Leslie Howard, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Edward G. Robinson, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Cagney, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, James Mason, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly. Producers and directors such as David O. Selznick, Darryl F. Zanuck, Mervyn LeRoy, William Wyler, George Stevens, and Billy Wilder made significant contributions to cinematic art.
The medium had, after nickelodeon days, converted many legitimate theaters into movie houses. Later, during Hollywood's "golden age," thousands of sumptuous movie palaces were erected all over the United States, and drive-in movie theaters became popular outside urban centers. Since their inception the movies have always been termed an industry, with good reason. In 1938 there were more than 80 million single admissions per week (65% of the population). To meet the huge box-office demand, more than 500 films were produced that year.
The industry in its heyday (1930–49) was managed by a number of omnipotent studios, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Brothers, RKO, Paramount, Twentieth Century-Fox, and Universal. They produced endless cycles of films in imitation of a few successful original types. The range of themes included the criminal underworld, behind-the-scenes newspaper dramas, westerns, musicals, costume romances, character series such as the Charlie Chan films, prison stories, mysteries, comedies, and Broadway shows. Because of their enormous investments and gargantuan rewards (the film industry's gross income for 1946, its best year, was nearly $2 billion), the studios were encouraged to repeat conventionalized formula pictures.
The Post-Studio Era
In the 1950s, two developments ended the studios' grip on the entertainment business: the overwhelming popularity of television began to eat into studio profits and the studios were forced by the federal courts to yield the control of distribution and exhibition that they had maintained by means of massive conglomerate corporations. In 1962 box-office receipts were only $900 million; by 1968 only 20 million people per week were going to a movie (10% of the population). Independent distributors and theaters took a huge cut of the industry's income after World War II, and the studios cut wages and laid off employees in a struggle to survive.
In order to compete with television the studio heads strongly urged technological innovation. In the 1950s experiments abounded with wide-screen processes, such as CinemaScope and Cinerama and stereophonic sound systems. The movies of the 1950s and 60s traded a bit of glamour for an increased sense of realism, providing vehicles for new directors, including Elia Kazan, John Frankenheimer, Stanley Kubrick, and Sidney Lumet, and for a great number of popular film stars, including Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Judy Holliday, James Dean, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlton Heston, Doris Day, George C. Scott, Audrey Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier.
Eventually, c.1956 many studios began to produce material especially for television, including commercials, and to sell their old films for television reruns. Independent production became the norm, with the studios acting as distributors only, and new kinds of films emerged: horror, science fiction, and rock 'n' roll stories aimed at teen-agers proliferated. Concurrently, larger studio-backed films eschewed romanticism and sentimentality, fighting the long-imposed bans on depictions of a harsher reality and a more explicit sexuality.
The trend away from the glamorous celebrity image that began in the 1960s gained momentum in the 70s. The principal stars of these years include Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, and Woody Allen. Important American directors of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s include Peter Bogdanovich, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, and Martin Scorsese.
A change came with the release of Jaws (1975), an unassuming suspense picture that unexpectedly grossed over $100 million by appealing to all ages and both sexes. Filmmakers were now encouraged to speak to the widest possible audience. The result was a series of films given over to spectacle. Star Wars (1977) cracked the $200 million barrier, and E.T. (1982) earned over $300 million. While many of these films aroused criticism for representing the triumph of special effects over any kind of human values, the net effect was to draw the audience back into movie theaters, and many movies, including those without spectacular elements, succeeded during this period. This trend has continued into the 21st cent. The leading directors are Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the latter more active as a producer.
Two developments that greatly enhanced profitability in the 1980s were the development of low-cost videocassette recorders (VCRs), which allow films to be shown at home, and the government's relaxation of the decrees separating production from distribution. The studios first felt that videocassettes would weaken the theatrical market; the reverse was true, as viewers became more interested in movie entertainment in general. Of the latter, studio co-ownership of various theater circuits assured wider distribution of films.
Beginning in the 1960s, many of the old movie palaces began to be divided into two or more auditoriums due to weakening attendance. When audiences returned in the 1980s, multiplexes, or theaters with multiple auditoriums, became the norm and mushroomed in suburban shopping malls and urban centers. In the early 1990s, however, the recession was reflected in movie attendance. By the turn of the decade, two major studios, MGM and Orion, suffered financial difficulties, and two others, Columbia and Universal, were bought by Japanese electronics companies, although Universal later became part of a French conglomerate.
One of the few positive motion-picture trends during the late 20th and early 21st cent. was the development and proliferation of IMAX. The format, which debuted in Japan in 1970, utilizes special film and projectors, features a gigantic screen and huge sound system, and has been used to take viewers on ultrarealistic trips to earthly (e.g., Everest, 1998) and outer-space (e.g., Destiny in Space, 1994) destinations. The province of museums for roughly two decades, the system was later extended to theaters and a number of films were reformatted to fit IMAX screens. By 2002, 180 IMAX films had been made, some in 3-D, and 225 large-screen IMAX theaters were in operation, 110 of them in the United States.
After several scandals led to the fear that the immorality perceived to be rampant in Hollywood might appear on screen, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, headed by Will H. Hays, was established in 1922 as a film review board. The Production Code, popularly known as the "Hays Code," a highly restrictive set of guidelines for movie content, was promulgated in 1934 and complied with by virtually every Hollywood producer. In the late 1960s, the determination of what constituted pornography was turned over to the states for enforcement at the same time that filmmakers were attempting to break away from the Production Code's bans on sexuality and violence.
In 1966, the Production Code was abandoned completely and succeeded by the Motion Picture Code and Rating Program. Adopted to avoid a threatened state-controlled system, the program has characterized itself as providing guidance for parents, not for filmmakers. The program initially assigned each film one of four ratings: G (general audiences, without restrictions), M (mature audiences, parental guidance advised), R (restricted audiences, no one younger than 18 admitted without a parent or guardian), and X (no one younger than 18 admitted). The age limit may be adjusted by individual state rulings. M was eventually supplanted by PG (parental guidance suggested), PG-13, was introduced for films that might contain material inappropriate for pre-teenagers, and NC-17 replaced X, which had become associated with pornographic films.
See G. Battcock, The New American Cinema (1967); K. Brownlow, The Parade's Gone By (1968); R. Manvell, New Cinema in the USA (1968); R. Adler, A Year in the Dark (1970); D. Shipman, The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years (1970); P. Trent, The Image Makers: Sixty Years of Hollywood Glamour (1972); P. Gilliatt, Unholy Fools (1973); C. Higham, The Art of the American Film, 1900–1971 (1973); P. Kael, I Lost It at the Movies (1965), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1968), Going Steady (1970), Deeper into Movies (1974), and For Keeps (1994); E. Mordden, The Hollywood Musical (1981) and The Hollywood Studios (1988); A. Brower and T. L. Wright, Working in Hollywood (1990); R. Barrios, A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film (1995); K. M. Cameron, America on Film (1997); W. K. Everson, American Silent Film (1998); J. Basinger, Silent Stars (1999); T. Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood (1999); M. A. Vieira, Sin in Soft Focus (1999); D. Bardwell and K. Thompson, Minding Movies (2011); S. Griffin, ed., What Dreams Were Made Of: Movie Stars of the 1940s (2011); D. Thomson, The Big Screen (2012).
Britain has produced some of the most illustrious talents in the history of film. Early efforts (c.1929) by the producer J. Arthur Rank to achieve a world market for British films were realized with the work of such postwar directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed, David Lean, and the Hungarian-born Alexander Korda. Their films were literate and often suspenseful and brought international fame to such actors as Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, John Mills, Paul Scofield, Merle Oberon, and Michael Redgrave. Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Peter Sellers, and Terry Thomas created comedies that are sophisticated and singularly British in their sense of humor.
Major British directors of the 1960s include the American-born Joseph Losey, Tony Richardson, Sidney Furie, and John Schlesinger. Among the great number of notable British actors of recent years are Dirk Bogarde, Peter Finch, Michael Caine, Vanessa Redgrave, Stanley Baker, Glenda Jackson, Richard Burton, Julie Christie, Peter O'Toole, Maggie Smith, Alan Bates, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, Albert Finney, Kenneth More, Michael York, Tom Courtenay, and Robert Shaw.
After a long dry spell in the 1970s, the British film industry returned to life with the formation of several new production companies such as Enigma, Working Title, Handmade Films, and Palace. A new television outlet, Channel 4, also produced many movies for theatrical release. Directors whose careers were stalled by the doldrums of the previous period now produced mature works: Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Laundrette), Mike Leigh (High Hopes, Life Is Sweet), and Mike Newell (Dance with a Stranger, The Good Father) among them. A new crop of actors came to the public's attention, including Gary Oldman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Natasha Richardson, Rupert Everett, Helen Mirren, Ben Kingsley, Jeremy Irons, Bob Hoskins, Kenneth Branagh, and Emma Thompson.
See R. Low, The History of the British Film (4 vol., 1973); C. Barr, ed., All Our Yesterdays (1990); J. Caughie and K. Rocket, ed., The Companion to British and Irish Cinema (1996).; S. Street, British National Cinema (1997); A. Aldgate and J. Richards, Best of British (new ed. 1999).
In the 1920s there was enormous creative film activity in France led by Louis Delluc and a group of directors around him—Abel Gance, Jean Epstein, and Germaine Dulac. Along with such directors as René Clair, Jean Renoir, and Carl Dreyer, they created films with an impressionistic and literary flavor. Later French films reflected first the optimism and then the despair of international events, as in Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937) and Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938). In the postwar era H. G. Clouzot, René Clément, and Robert Bresson directed important films.
In the late 1950s the "new wave" of young directors, including Alain Resnais, Louis Malle, François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard, made innovations in cinematography and dramatic approach. Their efforts achieved a new cinematic intimacy and a relaxed mood. French film stars who attained international acclaim during this period include Jean Gabin, Arletty, Gérard Philipe, Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Among the foremost directors of this period were Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, and the Greek-born Costa-Gavras.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the filmmakers of the new wave became curiously like the directors they had sought to replace, working on literary adaptations and stories of the occupation. A new group emerged, much more amorphous, concerned with reflecting their vision of present-day France. Among the new directors are Jean-Jacques Beneix (Diva,Betty Blue), Luc Besson (Subway,La Femme Nikita), and Leos Carax (Boy Meets Girl,Bad Blood).
The stars introduced by these films are notable for affectlessness: Beatrice Dalle, Christopher Lambert, Thierry Lhermitte, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tcheky Karyo, and Anne Parrilaud, though some have found more range in subsequent works. The most successful star of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s has been Gérard Depardieu, who can make as many of five films in a year and is often credited for keeping the French cinema viable on the world market despite strong competition from the American film industry.
See R. Armes, The French Cinema since 1946 (2 vol., rev. ed. 1970) and French Cinema (1985); G. Sadoul, French Film (1953, repr. 1972); E. Ehrlich, Cinema of Paradox (1985); C. Crisp, The Classic French Cinema, 1930–1960 (1993) J. D. Andrew, Mists of Regret (1995); G. Vincendeau, ed., The Companion to French Cinema (1996).
The great era of German cinema began in 1919 with Robert Wiene's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It was written by Carl Mayer, who was among the most influential artists working in the German film industry in the 1920s. The films of this era were expressionist in style, paralleling developments in the other arts. Other notable directors, such as G. W. Pabst, F. W. Murnau, Max Ophuls, and Fritz Lang, brought the medium to new heights of imaginative production. A decline set in c.1925 when Hollywood attracted many German directors, technicians, and actors to the United States.
The advent of Hitler drove any remaining top talent abroad, and the industry did not recover its position after the war. Beginning in the early 1970s a group of young filmmakers revitalized the industry, attaining a world audience for their films: Wim Wenders (Kings of the Road and Wings of Desire), Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo) and R. W. Fassbinder (over 40 films, including The Marriage of Maria Braun and Querelle) led the renaissance.
See R. Manvell and H. Fraenkel, The German Cinema (1971); H. H. Wollenberg, Fifty Years of German Film (1948, repr. 1972); T. Elsaesser, New German Cinema (1989); T. Ginsberg, ed., Perspectives on German Film (1996); S. Allan and J. Sandford, ed., Defa: East German Cinema, 1946–1992 (1999); T. Elsaesser and M. Wedel, ed., The BFI Companion to German Cinema (1999).
The films of Roberto Rossellini in the 1940s gave new impetus to the Italian cinema. Thereafter followed a cycle of exciting, compassionate, grimly realistic films from such directors as Vittorio De Sica, Luigi Zampa, Giuseppe de Santis, and Luchino Visconti. These films, usually concerned with social themes, were successful in Italy only after they had won a foreign market. In the 1950s, in order to win box-office appeal, a tendency to produce marketable and sensational movies diminished the reputation of Italian filmmakers.
Quality and international acclaim were restored by Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Bernardo Bertolucci. Italian film stars who have won popularity abroad include Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina, Monica Vitti, Raf Vallone, and Anna Magnani. The Italian industry suffered periodic crises from the 1970s to the 1990s, but produced new films by various masters and introduced an intriguing series of comic-centered films inspired by cartoons and clowning. Cinema Paradiso (1989) became the most successful Italian film released in the United States until Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella, 1997), a bittersweet comedy about the Holocaust in Italy.
See V. Jarratt, The Italian Cinema (1951, repr. 1972); P. Leprohon, The Italian Cinema (tr. 1972); P. Bondanella, Italian Cinema (1993); J. Hay et al., The Companion to Italian Cinema (1996).
Since World War II, films produced in the East have had an increasingly appreciative Western audience. Akira Kurosawa's films, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, are enormously popular action stories, in effect Japanese "westerns." Kurosawa's many productions, Kenju Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, and such delicately wrought works as Tokyo Story and The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice by Yasujiro Ozu brought worldwide acclaim to their directors and to Toshiro Mifune, who starred in many of Kurosawa's films. Japanese film became somewhat less culturally hermetic in later years, with directors such as Shohei Imamura (Vengeance Is Mine) and Juzo Itami (Tampopo) introducing a mixture of Japanese and Western influences into their work.
See D. Richie, The Japanese Movie: An Illustrated History (1982) and Japanese Cinema: An Introduction (1990); S. Galbraith, The Japanese Filmography (1996).
Dziga Vertov launched a weekly newsreel in 1922 urging new experiments in film technique, and Lev Kuleshov opened a cinema workshop to explore the psychological effects of film images. The result was the emergence of the Soviet epic films of the period 1925 to 1930. Encouraged by Lenin's belief that the film was of primary importance in the development of Soviet society, V. I. Pudovkin, Aleksandr Dovzhenko, and especially Sergei Eisenstein made films based on Russian history. Their superbly photographed, intensely dramatic films are classics of cinematic art.
The Soviet film industry was prolific but aesthetics were usurped by ideological heavy-handedness. Various thaws, however, produced intriguing works, including those by Sergei Paradjanov (The Color of Pomegranites) and Andrei Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev). The breakdown of the Communist system has left the industry (now scattered among several newly independent nations) in an uncertain state.
See S. M. Eisenstein, Film Form and Film Sense (tr. 1949, repr. separately 1969) and Notes of a Film Director (rev. ed. tr. 1970); J. Leyda, Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film (1960, repr. 1983); T. J. Slater, ed., Handbook of Soviet and East European Films and Filmmakers (1992).
Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller were the two men most responsible for the first flowering of Swedish films (c.1917–c.1924); Sjöström's Phantom Chariot (1920) was especially notable. When the Swedish film attained success and a world market, Hollywood and the German studios stepped in and hired the best technicians and artists, effectively destroying the industry. After World War II, Gösta Werner, Arne Sucksdorf, and Alf Sjöberg (especially his Torment, 1947) gained international repute. Film in Sweden was brought to unprecedented heights in the visionary works of Ingmar Bergman, a giant of modern cinema. He retired from filmmaking in 1983. Other modern Swedish directors of note include Bo Widerberg and Mai Zetterling. In 1987, Lasse Hallstrom's My Life as a Dog became the most successful Swedish film released abroad.
See J. Donner, The Personal Vision of Ingmar Bergman (1964); P. Cowie, Swedish Cinema (1966); A. Kwiatowski, Swedish Film Classics (1983); P. O. Qvist and P. Von Bagh, Guide to the Cinema of Sweden and Finland (1999).
Special types of films include the documentary, the newsreel, and the animated cartoon. The documentary, broadly defined, includes the newsreel, the travelogue, the educational film, and all other fact or nonfiction films, as well as some sorts of advertising. The term also includes artistic, interpretive films of the type that developed out of the work of Robert Flaherty (1920s and 30s) and Pare Lorentz (1930s) in the United States and John Grierson (1930s and 40s) in England. The documentary proved its value in the schoolroom and in training programs during World War II and has been widely used as a medium for propaganda since its inception. Documentary films on a vast range of subjects and exploiting every imaginable film technique are a primary staple of television entertainment.
The newsreel, introduced by Charles Pathé, was a series of short, generally unrelated films of current events, shown primarily as adjuncts to feature-film programs. The scope of the newsreel was broadened by the historical concept of the March of Time series (begun 1934); the newsreel was superseded by television news coverage in the early 1950s.
The animated cartoon is traditionally defined as a series of static drawings or scenes arranged and photographed and then synchronized with sound. In France in 1905, Émile Cohl produced several films with animated puppets, and in 1907, he made the first films to use animated drawings. American pioneers include Winsor McCay, who made Gertie the Dinosaur (1909); Bud Fisher, who began his "Mutt and Jeff" cartoons c.1918; Pat Sullivan, who produced "Felix the Cat" cartoons (1924); Chuck Jones, who in collaboration with Isador (Friz) Freleng, Tex Avery, and others, oversaw and animated (1930s–1960s) the Loony Tunes and Merry Melodies series (Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, et al.) at Warner Brothers (Jones also created (1949) the Road Runner series and later worked with on Dr. Seuss film cartoons; Freleng subsequently created the Pink Panther); and, of course, the celebrated Walt Disney.
Beginning with the Disney studios' Tron (1982), animation has become increasingly computer generated, largely due to the work of two California-based animation studiosa—DreamWorks and Pixar. Their early computer-made feature films include Pixar's Toy Story movies (1995, 1999) and A Bug's Life (1998) and DreamWorks' Antz (1998). By 2000, traditional cartoons were in decline and most U.S. film animation (with the exception of nearly all the features produced by Disney) was digital, seemingly three-dimensional, and computer-generated. In DreamWorks' Shrek (2001) and Shrek 2 (2004) and Pixar's Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and The Incredibles (2004), computer animation reached new heights of technological sophistication and complexity. Their seemingly real characters, voiced by actors but otherwise completely electronic in origin, interact in an apparently organic environment.
The Polar Express (2004) combined live action and animation, digitizing and transforming the body and face movements of actors into the actions of computerized characters that inhabit a three-dimensional, computer-generated world. The boundaries of traditional animation continued to expand as animation and live action were increasingly merged and the technology employed to combine the two became increasingly sophisticated. These advances are evident, for example, in the processed live action of Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly (2006) and in the motion-capture techniques used to change human dancers into dancing penguins in George Miller's Happy Feet (2006). Pixar's robot love story, WALL-E (2008, Academy Award), is told mainly in compelling digital images.
Although animation has been generally treated as a children's medium, some animators, such as Ralph Bakshi, have aimed their works at adults, and the Disney organization, after several moribund years, began a series of features aimed equally at kids and at their parents, such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and The Lion King (1994), which have proved to be extremely successful at the box office. Another notable talent is Don Bluth, who produced An American Tail and The Land before Time, combining old-fashioned full-animation with up-to-date wit.
Late 20th-century Japanese animation, much of it computer-generated, has been extremely influential. By the early 21st cent. some 60 percent of Japanese films and many television programs were in the style known as anime (ä´nēmā) [Jap.,=animation], which usually represents a fusion of Japanese pictorial tradition, particularly wood-block prints, with characters and stories in the American idiom. The style began in the 1950s with the work of Osamu Tezuka, creator of the Astro Boy comic book (1951) and television series (1963). Characterized by somewhat jerky movements and big-headed characters (as in the well-known Pokémon series), these films do not stress realism, but attempt to capture expressive gesture and mood. Anime films range from Disney-style adventures to surrealist fantasies, and many mix genres. Particularly impressive is the work of Hayao Miyazaki, e.g., the complex and brooding Princess Mononoke (1997) and the later Spirited Away (2001). Other outstanding anime films include Katusuhiro Otomo's Akira (1988), Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell (1996), Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue (1997), and Rintaro's Fritz Lang–inspired Metropolis (2000).
See K. C. Lahue, World of Laughter: The Motion Picture Comedy Short, 1910–1930 (1966); R. L. Snyder, Pare Lorentz and the Documentary Film (1968); A. Rosenthal, The New Documentary in Action (1971); J. Lenburg, The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (1991); M. Barrier, Hollywood Cartoons (1999); S. J. Napier, Anime from "Akira" to "Princess Monoke" (2000); K. Paik, To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios (2007); D. A. Price, The Pixar Touch (2008).
See K. Macgowan, Behind the Screen (1965); A. Bazin, What Is Cinema? (1967); B. Crowther, The Great Films (1967); D. Shipman, The Great Movie Stars (2 vol., 1970–72); D. Robinson, The History of World Cinema (1973); J. D. Andrew, The Major Film Theories (1976) and Concepts in Film Theory (1984); K. Brownlow, Hollywood, the Pioneers (1979); D. Cook, A History of Narrative Film (1981); G. Mast, A Short History of the Movies (1986); B. F. Kawin, How Movies Work (1987); I. Konigsberg, The Complete Film Dictionary (2d ed. 1997); D. Thomson; A Biographical Dictionary of Film (rev. ed. 2004) and The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood (2004).
"motion pictures." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-mopicts.html
"motion pictures." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-mopicts.html
The statement "Cinema is for us the most important of all arts" has been attributed to Vladimir Lenin. This statement, whether apocryphal or not, became the motto of the Soviet motion picture industry. Because of the central part the movies played in Soviet propaganda, the motion picture industry had an enormous impact on culture, society, and politics.
early russian cinema, 1896–1918
The moving picture age began in Russia on May 6, 1896, at the Aquarium amusement park in St. Petersburg. By summer of that year, the novelty was a featured attraction at the popular provincial trading fairs. Until 1908, however, the vast majority of movies shown in Russia were French. That year, Alexander Drankov (1880–1945), a portrait photographer and entrepreneur, opened the first Russian owned and operated studio, in St. Petersburg. His inaugural picture, Stenka Razin, was a great success and inspired other Russians to open studios.
By 1913, Drankov had been overshadowed by two Russian-owned production companies, Khanzhonkov and Thiemann & Reinhardt. These were located in Moscow, the empire's Hollywood. The outbreak of war in 1914 proved an enormous boon to the fledgling Russian film industry, since distribution paths were cut, making popular French movies hard to come by. (German films were forbidden altogether.) By 1916 Russia boasted more than one hundred studios that produced five hundred pictures. The country's four thousand movie theaters entertained an estimated 2 million spectators daily.
Until 1913 most Russian films were newsreels and travelogues. The few fiction films were mainly adaptations of literary classics, with some historical costume dramas. The turning point in the development of early Russian cinema was The Keys to Happiness (1913), directed by Yakov Protazanov (1881–1945) and Vladimir Gardin (1881–1945) for the Thiemann & Reinhardt studio. This full-length melodrama, based on a popular novel, was the legendary blockbuster of the time.
Although adaptations of literary classics remained popular with Russian audiences, the contemporary melodrama was favored during the war years. The master of the genre was Yevgeny Bauer (1865–1917). Bauer's complex psychological portraits, technical innovations, and painterly cinematic style raised Russian cinema to new levels of artistry. Bauer worked particularly well with actresses and made Vera Kholodnaya (1893–1919) a legend. Bauer's surviving films—which include Twilight of a Woman's Soul (1913), Child of the Big City (1914), Silent Witnesses (1914), Children of the Age (1915), The Dying Swan (1916), and To Happiness (1917)—provide a vivid picture of a lost Russia.
The revolutionary year 1917 brought joy and misgiving to filmmakers. Political, economic, and social instability shuttered most theaters by the beginning of 1918. Studios began packing up and moving south to Yalta, to escape Bolshevik control. By 1920, Russia's filmmakers were on the move again, to Paris, Berlin, and Prague. Russia's great actor Ivan Mozzhukhin (1890–1939, known in France as "Mosjoukine") was one of few who enjoyed as much success abroad as at home.
soviet silent cinema, 1918–1932
The first revolutionary film committees formed in 1918, and on August 27, 1919, the Bolshevik government nationalized the film industry, placing it under the control of Narkompros, the People's Commissariat for Enlightenment. Nationalization represented wishful thinking at best, since Moscow's movie companies had already decamped, dismantling everything that could be carried.
Filmmaking during the Civil War of 1917–1922 took place under extraordinarily difficult conditions. Lenin was acutely aware of the importance of disseminating the Bolshevik message to a largely illiterate audience as quickly as possible, yet film stock and trained cameramen were in short supply—not to mention projectors and projectionists. Apart from newsreels, the early Bolshevik repertory consisted of "agit-films," short, schematic, but exciting political messages. Films were brought to the provinces on colorfully decorated agit-trains, which carried an electrical generator to enable the agitki to be projected on a sheet. Innovations like these enabled Soviet cinema to rise from the ashes of the former Russian film industry, leading eventually to the formation of Goskino, the state film trust, in 1922 (reorganized as Sovkino in 1924).
Since most established directors, producers, and actors had already fled central Russia for territories controlled by the White armies, young men and women found themselves rapidly rising to positions of prominence in the revolutionary cinema. They were drawn to film as "the art of the future." Many of them had some experience in theater production, but Lev Kuleshov (1899–1970), who had begun his cinematic career with the great prerevolutionary director Bauer, led the way, though he was still a teenager.
By the end of the civil war, most of Soviet Russia's future filmmakers had converged on Moscow. Many of them (Kuleshov, Sergei Eisenstein, and their "collectives") were connected to the Proletkult theater, where they debated and dreamed.
Because film stock was carefully rationed until the economy recovered in 1924, young would-be directors had to content themselves with rehearsing the experiments they hoped to film and writing combative theoretical essays for the new film journals. The leading director-theorists were Kuleshov, Eisenstein (1898–1948), Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893–1953), Dziga Vertov (1896–1954, born Denis Kaufman), and the "FEKS" team of Grigory Kozintsev (1905–1973) and Leonid Trauberg (1902–1990). Kuleshov wrote most clearly about the art of the cinema as a revolutionary agent, but Eisenstein's and Vertov's theories (and movies) had an impact that extended far beyond the Soviet Union's borders.
The debates between Eisenstein and Vertov symbolized the most extreme positions in the theoretical conflicts among the revolutionary avantgarde of the 1920s. Eisenstein believed in acted cinema but borrowed Kuleshov's idea of the actor as a type; he preferred working with nonprofessionals. Vertov privileged non-acted cinema and argued that the movie camera was a "cinema eye" (kino-glaz ) that would catch "life off-guard" (zhizn vrasplokh )—yet he was an inveterate manipulator of time and space in his pictures. Eisenstein believed in a propulsive narrative driven by a "montage of attractions," with the masses as the protagonists, whereas Vertov was decisively anti-narrative, believing that a brilliantly edited kaleidoscope of images best revealed the contours of revolutionary life.
Eisenstein's first two feature films, Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1926), enjoyed enormous success with critics and politicians but were much less popular with the workers and soldiers whose interests they were supposed to service. The same was true of Vertov's pictures. The intelligentsia loved Forward, Soviet! and One-Sixth of the World (both 1926), but proletarians were nonplussed.
Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Kozintsev, and Trauberg (who directed as a team) were more successful translating revolutionary style and content for mass audiences because they retained plot and character at the heart of their films. The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924), one of Kuleshov's earliest efforts, appeared as a favorite film in audience surveys through the end of the 1920s. The same was true of Pudovkin's Mother (1926), a loose adaptation of Maxim Gorky's famous novel. Kozintsev and Trauberg's The Overcoat (1926) is a good example of the extremes to which young directors pushed the classical narrative.
Despite this wealth of talent, Soviet avantgarde films never came close to challenging the popularity of American movies in the 1920s. Douglas Fairbanks's and Charlie Chaplin's pictures drew sell-out audiences. In response to the pressures to make Soviet entertainment films—and the need to show a profit—Goskino and the quasi-private studio Mezhrapbom invested more heavily in popular films than in the avant-garde, to the great dismay of the latter, but to the joy of audiences. The leading popular filmmaker was Protazanov, who returned to Soviet Russia in 1923 to make a string of hits, starting with the science fiction adventure, Aelita (1924).
Also very successful with the spectators were the narrative films of younger directors such as Fridrikh Ermler (1898–1967, born Vladimir Breslav), Boris Barnet (1902–1965), and Abram Room (1894–1976). Ermler earned fame for his trenchant social melodramas (Katka's Reinette Apples, 1926 and The Parisan Cobbler, 1928). Barnet's intelligent comedies such as The Girl with the Hatbox (1927) sparkled, as did his adventure serial Miss Mend (1926),. Room was perhaps the most versatile of the three, ranging from a revolutionary adventure, Death Bay (1926), to a remarkable melodrama about a ménage à trois, Third Meshchanskaya Street (1927, known in the West as Bed and Sofa ).
It must be emphasized that moviemaking was not a solely Russian enterprise, although distribution politics often made it difficult for films from Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia to be considered more than exotica. The greatest artist to emerge from the non-Russian cinemas was certainly Ukraine's Alexander Dovzhenko (1894–1956), but Armenia's Amo Bek-Nazarov (1892–1965) and Georgia's Nikolai Shengelaya (1903–1943) made important contributions to early Soviet cinema as well.
In 1927, as the New Economic Policy era was coming to a close, Soviet cinema was flourishing. Cinema had returned to all provincial cities and rural areas were served by cinematic road shows. There was a lively film press that reflected a variety of aesthetic positions. Production was more than respectable, about 140 to 150 titles annually. Six years later, production had plummeted to a mere thirty-five films.
Many factors contributed to the crisis in cinema that was part of the Cultural Revolution. First, in 1927, sound was introduced to cinema, an event with significant artistic and economic implications. Second, proletarianist organizations such as RAPP, the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers, and ARRK, the Association of Workers in Revolutionary Cinematography were infiltrated by extremist elements who supported the government's aims to turn the film industry into a tool for propagandizing the collectivization and industrialization campaigns. This became apparent at the first All-Union Party Conference on Cinema Affairs in 1928. Third, in 1929, Anatoly Lunacharsky, the leading proponent of a diverse cinema, was ousted as commissar of enlightenment, and massive purges of the film industry began that lasted through 1931.
These troubled times saw the production of four great films, the last gasp of Soviet silent cinema: Ermler's The Fragment of the Empire, Kozintsev and Trauberg's New Babylon, Vertov's The Man with the Movie Camera (all 1929), and the following year, Dovzhenko's Earth.
stalinist cinema, 1932–1953
By the end of the Cultural Revolution, it was clear to filmmakers that the era of artistic innovation had ended. Movies and their makers were now "in the service of the state." Although Socialist Realism was not formally established as aesthetic dogma until 1934, (reconfirmed in 1935 at the All-Union Creative Conference on Cinematographic Affairs), politically astute directors had for several years been making movies that were only slightly more sophisticated than the agit-films of the civil war.
In the early 1930s, a few of the great artists of the previous decade attempted to adapt their experimental talents to the sound film. These efforts were either excoriated (Kuleshov's The Great Consoler and Pudovkin's The Deserter, both 1933) or banned outright (Eisenstein's Bezhin Meadow, 1937). Film production plummeted, as directors tried to navigate the ever-changing Party line, and many projects were aborted mid-production. Stalin's intense personal interest and involvement in moviemaking greatly exacerbated tensions.
Some of the early cinema elite avant-garde were eventually able to rebuild their careers. Kozintsev and Trauberg scored a major success with their popular adventure trilogy: The Youth of Maxim (1935), The Return of Maxim (1937), The Vyborg Side (1939). Pudovkin avoided political confrontations by turning to historical films celebrating Russian heroes of old in Minin and Pozharsky (1939), followed by Suvorov in 1941. Eisenstein likewise found a safe historical subject in the only undisputed masterpiece of the decade, Alexander Nevsky (1938). Others, such as Dovzhenko and Ermler, seriously compromised their artistic reputations by making movies that openly curried Stalin's favor. Ermler's The Great Citizen (two parts, 1937–1939) is a particularly notorious example.
New directors, most of them not particularly talented, moved to the forefront. Novices such as Nikolai Ekk and the Vasiliev Brothers made two of the enduring classics of Socialist Realism: The Road to Life (1931) and Chapayev (1934). Another relative newcomer, Ivan Pyrev, churned out Stalin-pleasing conspiracy films such as The Party Card (1936), about a woman who discovers her husband is a traitor, before turning to canned socialist comedies, of which Tractor Drivers (1939) is the most typical.
Some of the new generation managed to maintain artistic standards. Mikhail Romm's revisionist histories of the revolution, Lenin in October (1937) and Lenin in 1918 (1939), which placed Stalin right at Lenin's side, were the first major hits in his distinguished career. Mark Donskoy's three-picture adaptation of Maxim Gorky's autobiography, beginning with Gorky's Youth (1938) also generated popular acclaim. The most beloved of the major directors of the 1930s was, however, Grigory Alexandrov. Alexandrov, who had worked as Eisenstein's assistant until 1932, successfully distanced himself from the maverick director, launching a series of zany musical comedies starring his wife, Lyubov Orlova, in 1934 with The Jolly Fellows.
When the German armies invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the tightly controlled film industry easily mobilized for the wartime effort. Considered central to the war effort, key filmmakers were evacuated to Kazakhstan, where makeshift studios were quickly constructed in Alma-Ata. With very few exceptions—Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible (1944–1946) being most noteworthy—moviemaking during the war years focused almost exclusively on the war. Newsreels naturally dominated production. The fiction films that were made about the war effort were quite remarkable compared to those of the other combatant nations in that they focused on the active role women played in the partisan movement. One of these, Ermler's She Defends Her Motherland (1943), which tells the story of a woman who puts aside grief for vengeance, was shown in the United States during the war as No Greater Love.
The postwar years, until Stalin's death in 1953, were a cultural wasteland. Film production nearly ground to a halt; only nine films were made in 1950. The wave of denunciations and arrests known as the anti-cosmopolitan campaign roiled the cultural intelligentsia, particularly those who were Jewish such as Vertov, Trauberg, and Eisenstein. Eisenstein's precarious health was aggravated by the extreme tensions of the time and the disfavor that greeted the second part of Ivan the Terrible. He became the most famous casualty among filmmakers, dying of a heart attack in 1948 at the age of only fifty. Cold War conspiracy melodramas
dominated movie theaters (not unlike McCarthy era films in the United States a few years later), along with ever more extravagant panegyrics to Stalin. Georgian director Mikhail Chiaureli's first ode to Stalin, The Vow (1946), was followed by The Fall of Berlin (1949), which Richard Taylor has aptly dubbed "the apotheosis of Stalin's cult of Stalin."
soviet cinema from the thaw through stagnation, 1953–1985
By the mid-1950s, filmmakers were confident that the Thaw—as Khrushchev's relaxation of censorship was known-would last long enough for them to express long-dormant creativity. The move from public and political toward the private and personal became a hallmark of the period. Thaw pictures were appreciated not only at home, but also abroad, where they received numerous prizes at international film festivals. There was now a human face to the Soviet colossus.
The greatest movies of the period rewrote the history of World War II, the Great Patriotic War. Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying (1957) won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1958, signaling that Soviet cinema was once again on the world stage after nearly thirty years. Cranes is the story of a woman who betrays her lover, a soldier who is killed at the front, to marry his cousin, a craven opportunist. There is no upbeat ending, no neat resolution. The same can be said of Sergei Bondarchuk's The Fate of a Man and Grigory Chukhrai's The Ballad of a Soldier (both 1959). In the former, a POW returns home to find his entire family dead; in the latter, a very young soldier's last leave home to help his mother is movingly recorded.
A film that is often considered the last important movie of the Thaw also launched the career of the greatest film artist to emerge in postwar Soviet cinema. This was Ivan's Childhood (1962, known in the United States as My Name Is Ivan ), a stunning antiwar film that won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The director was Andrei Tarkovsky (1932–1986). By the time Tarkovsky began work on Andrei Rublev in the mid-1960s, Khrushchev had been ousted, and Leonid Brezhnev's era of stagnation had begun. Cultural iconoclasm was no longer tolerated, and Tarkovsky's dystopian epic about medieval Russia's greatest painter was not released in the USSR until 1971, although it won the International Film Critics' prize at Cannes in 1969. Tarkovsky toiled defiantly in the 1970s to produce three more Soviet films, Solaris (1972), The Mirror (1975), and Stalker (1980). He emigrated to Europe in 1984 and died of cancer two years later.
Filmmaking under Brezhnev was generally unremarkable, although two films, Bondarchuk's War and Peace (1966) and Vladimir Menshov's Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979) each won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The most interesting movies (such as Alexander Askoldov's The Commissar, 1967) were shelved, not to be released until the late 1980s as part of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost. Among the exceptions to the mundane fare were Larisa Shepitko's tale of World War II collaboration, The Ascent (1976), and Lana Gogoberidze's Several Interviews on Personal Questions (1979), which sensitively explored the drab, difficult lives of Soviet women.
The best-known director to have started his career during the Brezhnev era is Nikita Mikhalkov (b. 1945). Son of Sergei Mikhalkov, a Stalinist writer of children's stories, the younger Mikhalkov first made a name for himself as an actor. Mikhalkov achieved his greatest successes in the 1970s and 1980s with his "heritage" films, elegiac recreations of Russian life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, often adapted from literary classics, among them An Unfinished Piece for Player Piano (1977), Oblomov (1979), and Dark Eyes (1983).
russian cinema in transition, 1985–2000
When Gorbachev announced the advent of perestroika and glasnost in 1986, the Union of Cinematographers stood at the ready. After a sweeping purge of the union's aging and conservative bureaucracy, the maverick director Elem Klimov (b.1933) took the helm. Although Klimov had made a number of movies under Brezhnev, he did not emerge as a major director until 1985, with the release of his stunning antiwar film Come and See. Under Klimov's direction, the union began releasing the banned movies of the preceding twenty years, in effect rewriting the history of late Soviet cinema.
The film that most captured the public's imagination in that tumultuous period was Georgian, not Russian. Tengiz Abuladze's Repentance (1984, released nationally in 1986) is a surrealistic black comedy-drama that follows the misdeeds of the Abuladze family, provided a scathing commentary on Stalinism. Although a difficult film designed to provoke rather than entertain, Repentance packed movie theaters and sparked a national debate about the legacy of the past and the complicity of the survivors.
Television also became a major venue for filmmakers. Gorbachev's cultural policies encouraged publicistic documentaries that exposed either the evils of Stalin and his henchmen or the decay and degradation of contemporary Soviet life. Fiction films such as Little Vera (Vasily Pichul, 1988), Intergirl (Pyotr Todorovsky, 1989), and Taxi Blues (Pavel Lungin, 1990) followed suit by telling seamy tales about the Soviet underclass.
The movie industry began to fragment even before the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Union of Cinematographers decentralized in mid-1990, and Goskino and Sovexportfilm, which provided central oversight over film production and distribution, had completely lost control by the end of 1990. The early 1990s saw the collapse of native film production in all the post-Soviet states. Centralization and censorship had long been the bane of the industry, but filmmakers had no idea how to raise money for their projects—and were even more baffled by being expected to turn a profit. Market demands became known as "commercial censorship." Filmmakers also had to contend for the first time with competition from Hollywood, as second-rate American films flooded the market.
The Russian cinema industry began to rebound in the late 1990s. It now resembled other European cinemas quite closely, meaning that national production was carefully circumscribed, focusing on the art film market. Nikita Mikhalkov emerged the clear winner. By the turn of the century he became the president of the Russian Filmmakers' Union, the president of the Russian Cultural Foundation, and the president of the only commercially successful Russian studio, TriTe. He established a fruitful partnership with the French company Camera One, which coproduced his movies and distributed them abroad. He took enormous pride in the fact that Burnt by the Sun, his 1995 exploration of the beginnings of the Great Terror, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture that year, only the third Russian-language film to have done so, and certainly the best.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, therefore, it seems that the glory days of Russian cinema are past. This past, however, has earned Russian and Soviet films and filmmakers an enduring place in the history of global cinema.
See also: agitprop; alexandrov, grigory alexandrovich; bauer, yevgeny frantsevich; chapayev, vasily ivanovich; cultural revolution; eisenstein, sergei mikhailovich; mikhalkov, nikita sergeyevich; orlova, lyubov petrovna; socialist realism; tarkovsky, andrei arsenievich; thaw, the
Horton, Andrew, and Brashinsky, Mikhail. (1992). The Zero Hour: Glasnost and Soviet Cinema in Transition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kenez, Peter. (2001). Cinema and Soviet Society from the Revolution to the Death of Stalin. London: I. B. Tauris.
Lawton, Anna. (1992). Kinoglasnost: Soviet Cinema in Our Time. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Leyda, Jay. (1960). Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film. London: Allen & Unwin.
Taylor, Richard. (1979). The Politics of the Soviet Cinema, 1917–1929. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, Richard. (1998). Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, 2nd rev. ed. London: I. B. Tauris.
Taylor, Richard, and Christie, Ian, eds. (1988). The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, 1896–1939. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tsivian, Yuri, comp. (1989). Silent Witnesses: Russian Films, 1908–1919. Pordenone and London, 1989.
Tsivian, Yuri. (1994). Early Cinema in Russia and Its Cultural Reception. Friuli-Venezia: Edizioni Biblioteca dell'immagine; London: British Film Institute.
Woll, Josephine. (2000). Real Images: Soviet Cinema and the Thaw. London: I. B. Tauris.
Youngblood, Denise J. (1991). Soviet Cinema in the Silent Era, 1918-1935. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Youngblood, Denise J. (1992). Movies for the Masses: Popular Cinema and Soviet Society in the 1920s. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Youngblood, Denise J. (1999). The Magic Mirror: Moviemaking in Russia, 1908-1918. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Denise J. Youngblood
YOUNGBLOOD, DENISE J.. "Motion Pictures." Encyclopedia of Russian History. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404100866.html
YOUNGBLOOD, DENISE J.. "Motion Pictures." Encyclopedia of Russian History. 2004. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404100866.html
motion picture photography
motion picture photography or cinematography, photographic arts and techniques involved in making motion pictures.
See also photography, still.
The motion picture camera (see under camera) was developed from simple multi-image devices that, when spun or flipped, displayed the parts of a continuous movement, which, combined with the ocular principle of persistence of vision, produces the illusion of movement. The camera takes a series of photographs on negative film; when the positive is moved through a projector at a speed consistent with that of the camera, they throw a realistically perceived moving image on a wall or screen.
In the first decade of filmmaking, pioneers Georges Méliès and Edwin S. Porter found that the effect of motion could be warped, shooting the film at a slower speed than it was projected to produce a speeded-up image (and vice versa) which could be used for comical or fantastical purposes. Porter and especially D. W. Griffith discovered that cutting, or editing, strips of films did not destroy the viewer's ability to comprehend the flow of images.
Griffith developed the use of the close-up, a full view of a detail within the larger image, often a hand, face, or object, the audience retaining the context of the scene into which the close-up was cut. With this method, Griffith was able to bind the audience closer to the characters on the screen, intensifying emotional involvement with the story. Griffith also experimented with cutting scenes widely separated in space but meant to communicate a temporal simultaneity. Thus, in The Lonesdale Operator (1909), when the heroine is menaced by the villain, Griffith could cut to her approaching rescuers and through ever-shorter alternations between the two actions could imply that the rescuers were coming closer until, finally, the two converge in the same frame and the heroine is rescued. Griffith's use of editing became extremely sophisticated, but was a largely intuitive process.
The initial codification of editing possibilities and the theory and application of it for aesthetic purposes began in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Montage, the cutting of images so that meaning could be generated from their juxtaposition, was devised by Sergei M. Eisenstein and demonstrated with unusual power in the scene depicting the slaughter of civilians by Russian troops on the Odessa steps in the classic film The Battleship Potemkin (1925). In this scene, hundreds of shots, some on screen for no longer than a second or two, communicate an overwhelming sense of violence and terror while depicting no direct violence in any one image. Filmmakers in general incorporated editing as one element of a total work rather than the determining element of the work itself.
Cinematography is the act of lighting and photographing the images. Its history includes aesthetic elements, such as the way a set or location may be lighted to bolster the drama. Also important are technological elements, which broaden the expressive capacity of the image and even affect the environment of the film-watching experience, for example, the variety of framing options offered by masking the screen or, later, through methods intended to increase the medium's panoramic possibilities.
Striking work on this level was done in Germany during the 1920s, as filmmakers worked to bring expressionism, then a movement in drama and painting, to their medium. Fritz Lang and F. W. Murnau tried through manipulation of the image to portray the psychic and emotional states of their films' characters. Through an increased attention to the meanings that could be generated through sculpting the individual images with light and particularly darkness, they evolved a highly subjective film style in which these elements were combined to reflect the mental state of the characters. This sort of subjectivity is particularly vivid in Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924), in which the tribulations of a hotel doorman who faces a series of humiliations is so vividly expressed through the photographic treatment that no titles (intercut written texts) were necessary to explain the narrative.
From 1927, the addition of the soundtrack to film posed the problem of incorporating sound into the visual repertoire of the silents. The first feature with dialogue, The Jazz Singer (1927), used a film and phonograph method that allowed for camera mobility but was difficult to synchronize. It was soon displaced by a method in which sound and image were recorded together and projected on a single piece of film.
Directors such as René Clair and Rouben Mamoulian were pioneers in the effort to use sound creatively and in conjunction with the image, but most films simply recorded dialogue to accompany static images, as early sound recording methods required that the camera be encumbered within a soundproof booth. As the technological difficulties of sound recording receded, the image regained its prominence and the stalled work begun in the twenties went forward.
Sound and Cinematography: Citizen Kane
Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) is a compendium of photographic techniques combined with a creative use of sound. Welles and cinematographer Gregg Toland developed or enhanced techniques for allowing the drama to develop on multiple planes of vision and sound. Deep focus photography, which Toland had used in more limited fashion in earlier films, allowed actors and objects to remain in focus whatever their distance from the camera. Using this method, multiple actions could be staged within a single frame and remain comprehensible, allowing for complex interactions between foreground and background.
The soundtrack followed suit. Welles created a complex soundtrack that merged multiple dialogues, sometimes spoken simultaneously, and music into a comprehensible whole. Toland also developed ways to light sets so that it was no longer necessary to avoid extreme low-angle shots for fear of exposing the lamps; the effect of allowing different, often extreme, camera angles was to intensify the meaning of a given shot or scene.
While sound was rapidly merged with the image, color proved more difficult. Many early films were hand-painted, and various mechanical methods of suggesting color were developed. But the technology necessary to reproduce color comparable to that perceived by the eye only developed during the 1920s and attained a full palette in 1933 with the introduction of three-color Technicolor. Ironically, by this time, black-and-white was assumed to represent "reality" on screen and color was first used primarily in musicals, fantasies, and large-scale spectacles. Color replaced black-and-white as the dominant medium during the late 1950s, perhaps because it could be marketed as an alternative to black-and-white television.
Wide-Screen and Other Processes
The studios responded to television, and its rapid siphoning of the movie audience, with a battery of technical "advances," many of them modernized versions of processes developed two to three decades earlier. Three techniques were introduced that employed panoramic framing, which met with varying degrees of success. The standard film aspect ratio had been 1.33:1, nearly square. In 1953, Twentieth Century-Fox studio initiated CinemaScope, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. CinemaScope is an anamorphic process, using a lens while filming which squeezes a wide image onto a standard-sized frame of film; the image is unsqueezed via a complementary lens on the projector. A competing system, VistaVision, has a ratio of 1.85:1, accomplished by turning the film strip 45 degrees and photographing and projecting the film horizontally. These aspect ratios became the industry standard.
A third process, Cinerama, used three cameras to photograph a scene and three projectors that showed the image on a curved screen. The intention was to duplicate peripheral vision and thus trick the mind into generating a realistic three-dimensional image. Artistically, Cinerama reached its apex with 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), in which director Stanley Kubrick used the format to convey the enormousness of outer space. Expensive and cumbersome, the format was retired in 1973.
Also during the 1950s, 3-D, which reproduced depth perception through the use of glasses that merged split images, proved unworkable and headache inducing. In the early 1990s a much more sophisticated 3-D technique, IMAX, was introduced. Requiring a headset equipped with infrared sensors, liquid crystal lenses, and stereo speakers, its effects are remarkably lifelike. It uses images produced by two spools of synchronized film whose frames are more than ten times the size of conventional 35-mm images. It was uncertain whether or not the process would prove viable for large-scale production and acceptable to large audiences. IMAX in a non-3-D version, which does not require a headset, in a high definition (HD) format, also came into wide usage in the early 1990s. Shot with a bulky and complex camera, it produces images about 10 times larger and with 10 times greater resolution than that produced by a standard 35-mm print. The depth and sharpness of these images are thought to be the highest quality ever produced for the motion picture. At first, IMAX was primarily used to shoot short science documentaries dealing with outer space, undersea life, and other such subjects. These continue to be popular features and are usually shown in special IMAX theaters with huge screens, many of them located in theme parks. In the 2000s, Hollywood directors began using sections of IMAX images in their feature films.
Cinematography developed as a separate craft very early in film history; the first prominent cinematographer was Billy Bitzer, who worked on Griffith's films. The best cinematographers develop styles that carry over to the films of the many directors with whom they work. Occasionally, a collaboration between a director and cinematographer will produce a series of films of unusually consistent photographic quality. The foremost American cameramen from the first half of the 20th cent. include Gregg Toland (Wuthering Heights, The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane), Charles Rosher (Sunrise, The Yearling), James Wong Howe (The Thin Man, The Rose Tattoo, Picnic, Hud), Lee Garmes (Morocco, Shanghai Express, Duel in the Sun), and Karl Freund (The Last Laugh, Metropolis, Camille).
The French directors of the "new wave" of the 1960s, including Alain Resnais, Louis Malle, François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard, revolutionized photographic technique by using newly invented smaller cameras and faster film stocks requiring less deliberate lighting techniques. These films feature a rawer style, more usually associated with documentary, that attempts to present an unmediated naturalistic narrative. The basic methodology was carried back into a documentary movement loosely grouped under the cinéma vérité rubric. Hollywood filmmakers adapted these methods, but continued to strive for a photographically "perfect" environment, in which the audience is never made aware of the mechanics of producing a movie.
Some prominent cinematographers of the last 20 years include Sven Nykvist (Persona and virtually every film directed by Ingmar Bergman after 1960), Gordon Willis (The Godfather, Annie Hall), Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Sheltering Sky), Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, McCabe and Mrs. Miller) and Nestor Almendros (The Story of Adele H., Places in the Heart).
See S. M. Eisenstein, Film Form and Film Sense (tr. 1949, repr. separately 1969) and Notes of a Film Director (rev. ed. tr. 1970); H. M. Geduld, ed., Film Makers on Film Making (1967); R. L. Bare, The Film Director: A Practical Guide to Motion Picture and Television Techniques (1971).
"motion picture photography." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-mopixpho.html
"motion picture photography." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-mopixpho.html
colorization, motion picture
motion picture colorization, electronic process that uses computers to add color to black-and-white movies, creating new colored videotape versions. Invented by Canadians Wilson Markle and Brian Hunt, the process was first used in 1970 and became viable in the late 1980s. Proponents of colorization argue that it makes old movies more acceptable to the public. The process was enthusiastically backed by Ted Turner, whose 1986 proposal to colorize all the black-and-white films in the MGM archives, which he owns, led to a storm of opposition and to denunciations by such figures as John Huston, Jimmy Stewart, and Woody Allen, among others, who saw colorization is a defilement of the original work. The process became particularly controversial in the late 1980s when such monochrome film classics as Casablanca,Citizen Kane, and It's a Wonderful Life were threatened with colorization. Since that time, the demand for colorized films has greatly diminished. Some old television programs, however, continue to appear in colorized versions.
"colorization, motion picture." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-colorizat.html
"colorization, motion picture." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-colorizat.html
"Motion Pictures." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401802764.html
"Motion Pictures." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401802764.html
moving pictures: see motion pictures.
"moving pictures." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (July 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-X-movingpi.html
"moving pictures." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-X-movingpi.html