Early American Cinema in Transition
Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907–1913
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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I first had the idea of writing about the transitional period back at a time which now seems closer to that era than the year I write this. That idea, and my interest in early cinema, were nurtured by several people at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to whom I feel tremendous gratitude. Principal among them are Don Crafton...
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AsH E I N RIC H W 0 L F F LI N reminds us, the willful act of definition forces historians to abandon the careful balancing act that history writing typically entails. Cautious relativism may reflect sensitivity to the transience of historical phenomena, but indecisiveness will not produce meaningful categories and helpful periodizations...
2. “Boom Time in the Moving-Picture Business” : Industrial Structure, Production Practices, and the Trade Press
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THE PERIOD 1907-13 was a tumultuous one for the American film industry, as the exhibition landscape was transformed by the proliferation of small nickelodeon theaters, often converted storefronts. This nickelodeon boom, which began in 1905 and stretched into 1908, revolutionized the exhibition sector and led to a significant upsurge...
3. “A Story Vital and Unified in Its Action” : The Demands of Narrative
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MAR K E T - BAS E D DE MAN D for films of increased length and narrative complexity created interlocking problems for filmmakers of the transitional period. Scenario writers had to determine what types of stories and narrative structures best suited the one-reel running time. Once directors had these scenarios in hand, they needed to devise appropriate storytelling methods. Increased narrative complexity further...
4. “An Immeasurably Greater Freedom” : Time and Space in Transitional Cinema
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When Mr. Griffith suggested a scene showing Annie Lee waiting for her husband's return to be followed by a scene of Enoch cast away on a desert island [in After Many Years, 1909], it was altogether too distracting. "How can you tell a story jumping about like that? The people won't know what...
5. “The Modern Technique of the Art” : The Style of Transitional Cinema
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ON 3 DECEMBER 1913, an advertisement placed in the New York Dramatic Mirror trumpeted the achievements of D. W. Griffith, the hitherto anonymous "producer of all great Biograph successes." As a way of establishing Griffith's prominence within the industry...
6. Analyzing Transition: Six Sample Films
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IN THE IN T ROD U C T ION, I outlined some broad defining fonnal characteristics of the transitional period by analyzing the differences between two hypothetical films...
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Is THE TRANSITION AL PERIOD a distinct phase within the formal history of American filmmaking or merely a way station between the primitive and the classical? The transitional period's salient characteristicits constant engagement of change-renders any definitive...
Appendix A: Notes on Method
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Appendix B: Shot-by-Shot Analyses for Chapter 6
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Filmography: Viewed Titles, 1907–1913
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Publication Year: 2001
Series Title: Wisconsin Studies in Film