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Birth of the Cinema 

The Story of Film looks at the birth of cinema. It examines the period 1895-1918 where early film pioneers created the first moving pictures. It also look at the period 1903-1918 and the ... See full summary »




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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Jean-Michel Frodon ...
Himself - Film Historian
Herself - Niece of Cecil B. DeMille (archive footage)
Cari Beauchamp ...
Herself - Film Historian
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Narrator (voice)


The Story of Film looks at the birth of cinema. It examines the period 1895-1918 where early film pioneers created the first moving pictures. It also look at the period 1903-1918 and the early years of silent film. It examines the development of film techniques including special effects, tracking shots, close ups, wide-screen editing, continuity cutting, parallel editing, reverse angle, and back-lighting. Written by Shatterdaymorn

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Release Date:

3 September 2011 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


When Life of an American Fireman is mentioned, the narrator says that the actress was known some years later has Florence Lawrence, but the actress of this short film was actually Vivian Vaughan. See more »


Mark Cousins - Presenter: A lie to tell the truth. This is film making. The art of making us feel that we're there.
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Features Odd Man Out (1947) See more »

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User Reviews

I really disliked this film and cannot bring myself to watch the rest of it.
2 September 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Before this first part of the series "The Story of Film" was shown, Mark Cousins talked to Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies about how he made the film. Surprisingly, the project was done with him and one other person! It is impressive that they made this. However, when the film itself began, I was very disappointed. While he put years and years of energy into the film, it turned out to be less than I'd hoped. What exactly did I dislike? Well, I assumed it would be a nice documentary that chronicled the history of film and that was all. However, so much of what Cousins says during the course of the film is his OPINION couched as the early history of films. He seems to have a very, very strong penchant for non-Hollywood productions (particularly European cinema) and spoke rather disparagingly about most American films. Sometimes his facts were just wrong (such as saying the first American full-length film was in 1918--while it was much earlier) and sometimes he spoke about how Hollywood was anti-women and anti-ethnic. While assertion this is generally true, it isn't like black people and women were making huge numbers of films outside the US either. It was just too early in social history--and it's a shame to put all this off on America. I also kind of understood what Cousins may have meant when he said that "Casablanca" is NOT a real classic...but it IS and putting down a great film in order to bolster his opinions about non-Hollywood films seemed disingenuous. In addition, I was put off by his occasionally ham-fisted and occasionally dull narration and just cannot bring myself to watch the next 14 episodes.

Perhaps I am overreacting. See the film for yourself and let me know what you think. All I know is that the history of film can celebrate all great films and needs to be far less opinionated and more fact-based. I really was looking for a nice overview of the birth of films.

Also, I do ADORE European cinema and if you want to see a great series on this, try the terrific "Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood". A must-see for any serious student of films.

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