|Index||3 reviews in total|
This first installment in the seven part documentary on Hollywood up to
the year 1970 covers not only motion pictures as we understand them
today from 1889 to the year 1907, but also tries to give some
background on what came before. It talks about "magic lantern" shows
that date back to the 18th century with painted glass being projected
to a screen and then pieces of the glass being moved around to give the
illusion of movement. It covers the early years of the founders of the
big Hollywood studios - Louis B. Mayer, William Fox, the Warner
brothers, and Carl Laemmle, among others. The main thing they shared
was the immigrant experience in which there essentially was no
childhood. As soon as you were old enough to work, you worked. It
talked at length about the first successful motion picture maker who
was in fact its official inventor - Thomas Edison. Edison's early films
were in fact "actualities" and only a few minutes long, often
resembling newsreels or even just experiments more than what we today
call movies. In the end these films lost sway with the public as more
dramatic productions became the norm. D.W. Griffith is mentioned, along
with how he thought that becoming a director was a risky proposition
and made Biograph promise to give him his job back as an actor if it
didn't work out.
The end of this first installment talks about how the moguls headed west after just a few years of producing films primarily in the Northeast in search of a better outdoor climate in which to shoot, more open land, and cheaper prices for both land and labor.
There is much packed into this first installment and one hour isn't nearly enough time to talk about the work of these early pioneers. After all, there are commercial multi-disc DVD sets available that are dedicated to the work of Melies, D.W. Griffith, and of Edison. If you viewed the original broadcast on Turner Classic Movies, there were excerpts from all of these sets played after the documentary illustrating the work of these "peepshow pioneers" although it can be argued that the work of Griffith is one of the things that led the industry out of the peepshow era and into the next - that of the first feature films.
I'd recommend this as a very short introduction to the birth of the film industry. Do realize though that you could spend hours on just this 18 year period of the birth of film, but TCM has to split the difference between being entertaining and informative, which is something that they've excelled at over the years with their original productions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was interesting to find out just how long ago man started fiddling
with the idea of moving pictures. Most of us film fans know "movie
history" began, for the most part, in the late 1800s, but it's
explained here that "The Magic Lantern" was invented in 1659 and that
was the forerunner of things to come.
Magic Lantern shows began showing up more a hundred years later - all of this, I believe narrator Christoper Plummer said, was begun in France. In the 1790s, there was a horror show called "The Phantasmagoric," another forerunner to what eventually began to be a motion picture.
In the U.S.A., amazing progress, it was said, was made by the famous inventor Thomas Edison. He and his assistant, a man named W.K.L. Dickson collaborated on making photographs that moved, "a machine for the eyes like the phonograph for the ears." (Edison also invented the phonograph).
Anyway, this first installment of TCM's "Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood" goes way back and traces the evolution of how movies were made, and by whom, and promoted by whom. We are shown the first movie studio, peep shows, the Lumiere Brothers with their first big-screen adaptation, Edison's "Vitascope," the first newsreels, and the first blockbuster movie hit in America: "The Great Train Robbery," and the rise of the Nickelodeon.
All in all, as you can see, there was a lot of information packed into this hour-long show. I didn't mention half of it. It was very good and a "must" for movie buffs and simply for people who enjoying seeing history.
Moguls & Movie Stars: Peepshow Pioneers (2010)
*** (out of 4)
This first entry in Turner Classic Movies seven-part series takes a look at the men and women who really formed what would become known as movies. We start off in the late 1880s as the camera is invented and experiments are being made to try and get the images to move. This eventually leads to the Lumiere Brothers, Edwin S. Porter, Georges Melies and of course D.W. Griffith. We learn about the nickelodeon days and how the likes of the Warner Brothers, Louis B. Mayer, Carl Laemmle and William Fox ended up buying theaters, which would lead to bigger moves. This first entry in the series is pretty good but at the end of the day I couldn't help but feel that too much was left out in terms of some basic information. I'm sure those who have no idea about the early days of what would eventually become Hollywood will find a lot of great information here and there's no question that we do get a lot of stuff but 57-minutes just isn't long enough to give us a true identity of many things that were going on in these early days. We briefly hear about the controversy that movies were faced with but we only hear about THE KISS. There were many more examples and there were many legal battles that movies would face but this is just overlooked. Porter gets mentioned for THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY and of course Melies' A TRIP TO THE MOON is discuss. With Griffith we get clips from several of his films but we're quickly told that he made 400+ movies and then we move on. Even towards the end we're told about the big move to California where several names are brought up but not the first person who actually moved his film crew there. Again, this is a very good documentary but I think more time could have been devoted to some of these major figures in the early days of cinema. Leonard Maltin and several other film historians give their views of these early days and we get countless film clips as well.
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