THE MOVING IMAGE IS BORN
The first commercial presentation of motion pictures took place on the 14th April 1894 at Holland Bros' Kinetoscope Parlor, New York using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscopes. While America was still 'reeling' from this, Louis and Auguste Lumiere two brothers from Lyon invented the Cinematograph, a machine to record motion by rapid photography. France was the pioneer in cinematography and led the rest of the film making world into the 20th century.
The first flickers on film offered images of animals, traffic and people at work including blacksmiths and trapeze artists. Whilst this must have been incredible to Victorian audiences, it was not long before film makers used the new medium to tell stories and some realised the potential to shock an audience. The horror genre was born.
Georges Melies a French illusionist utilised the new cinematic process to create on film the first 'scary' images an audience had seen. In The Vanishing Lady (1896) Melies shows a women seated on a chair and then covered by a cloak, when the cloak is removed a skeleton sits in the woman's place. This camera trickery might seem simple now but 100 years ago audiences were amazed. Melies continued this illusionary style in subject matter which concentrated on the Fantastique and supernatural. The Devil's Castle (1896), The Haunted Castle (1897), The Laboratory of Mephistopheles (1897), The Cave of the Demons (1898), The Gigantic Devil (1902), The Dancing Midget (1902), A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Oracle of Delphi (1903), The Monster (1903).
While Melies had lit the spark, others were now carrying the torch. Walter Booth a conjurer in London followed his french counterpart and produced films in a similar vein. The Miser's Doom (1899), The Haunted Curiosity Shop (1901). These pioneers had stimulated and whetted appetites worldwide, as audiences became more demanding and sophisticated 'real films' were made spanning all subjects. The birth of cinema spawned many genres, however the horror film seems to have been an integral part of early cinema. The 'Silent era' meant film had to be visually dramatic to keep the audience interested. Horror was an ideal vehicle for early film makers, gothic sets, theatrical make-up and shot in the shadows, ensured that audiences were kept on the edge of their seats. Scaring the audience in a safe environment was a profit making venture, a factor which has not been lost on modern film makers.
CLASSICS OF THE SILENT AGE
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The Count Shows Off His Manicured Hands
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