فصل 02

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فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

In the beginning

The first moving pictures were simple ‘shadow shows’ or ‘shadow plays’.

Then came the magic lanterns which projected painted glass slides on to a screen. These became very popular in Europe in the 18th century, and lantern showmen travelled from village to village.

But in the 1820s, Nicephore Niepce invented photography, and soon photographs were used instead of the much more expensive glass slides. But these were not movies. The pictures did not move. To make moving pictures it is necessary to take a large number of photographs very quickly, one after the other. Then, when the photographs are projected, the person or animal in the picture appears to move.

In 1878, the British photographer, Eadweard Muybridge, who was living in California, fixed twelve cameras beside a racetrack and took pictures of a racehorse - very quickly, one after the other. The American inventor, Thomas Edison, watched the work of Muybridge with great interest. (Edison had invented the phonograph - an early ‘record player’ - in 1877.) By 1890, William K. L. Dickson, who was working with Edison, had managed to take ‘moving pictures’ with something called the Kinetograph.

In 1893 the world’s first film studio was built by Edison in West Orange, New Jersey. Actors from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus were filmed there. The films were shown in Kinetoscope machines. These machines did not project the film on to a screen, they had ‘peep-holes’ that one person at a time could look through.

It was the Lumiere brothers, in France, who invented a camera and projector in one - the Cinematographe. Now large audiences could watch projected pictures on a screen. And because films were longer, people were happy to pay more to see them.

The Lumiere brothers gave the first performance of their Cinematographe in Paris in 1895, in a room under the Grand Cafe, 14 boulevard des Capucines on 28th December. They borrowed a hundred chairs from the cafe, but only thirty-five seats were sold at one franc each. But it was the world’s first ‘film show’.

Then Edison introduced the Vitascope projector in New York on April 23, 1896. And by the end of that year, films were flickering on screens all over Europe and America. (Films were often called ‘flickers’ or ‘flicks’.) At first, people did not mind what they watched, it was exciting enough just to be able to see real moving photographs of people and animals.

But slowly films with stories began to appear, and the Frenchman, Georges Melies, began to use clever photography to make strange things happen. These were some of the first ‘special effects’.

Film fact

There was a bad accident in May 1897. A Cinematographe show was part of the great Charity Bazaar in Paris. But the projectionist was careless and the film caught fire. This started an even bigger fire, and 140 people died. Many of them were very rich and important people.

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