Of all the treasures of the silent era, in my opinion the most precious are the earliest films–the REALLY old films–the blurry, scratchy, archaic little snippets of footage from the dawn of cinema.

The World's Oldest Surviving Film: “Roundhay Garden Scene,” Circa 1888 | by  Joel Eisenberg | Writing For Your Life | Medium

Trains rolling into stations, men boxing, ladies dancing–these simple films are artifacts of an era that’s now almost impossible to imagine. It was a time when entertainment was something that had always taken place on a stage or at a piano in your own home. It was a time when the sheer novelty of capturing actual moments from life was miraculous.

On This Day In Film on Twitter: "FRED OTT'S SNEEZE | rel. 9 Jan, 1894 |  dir. William K.L. Dickson | the first film to be copyrighted in the U.S.  https://t.co/My777iTtto" / Twitter

And many of those miraculous bits of footage still survive today, tattered survivors of a bygone era. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say much of history can be categorized as “Before” and “After” the invention of films.

Loïe Fuller in Serpentine dance costume, 1898. Reproduced from Birds of...  | Download Scientific Diagram

And what better month to contemplate these super old films than a winter month? So please, take a little time to visit Silent-ology this February as I pay tribute to the earliest years of cinema. I’ll be sharing a bunch of new pieces, shining up a few older ones, and generally trying to create a useful portrait of a time that I think is downright fascinating. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I will!

Georges Méliès: how the filmmaker revolutionized cinema 100 years ago - Vox

12 thoughts on “

  1. I am SO looking forward to this! I am sure you will wow us, as usual. 😁
    See, I THINK I have a pretty good idea of these early years and what was made during them, but I already know you will unearth things and people I know absolutely nothing about and school me on it! 😉 Can’t wait!

  2. I studied early film in school. We had that century old debate of whether Eadweard Muybridge created the first film or not. Today, there seems to be interest only in better images, CGI, etc. But, it had to start somewhere and that’s the most fascinating part of film history.

  3. It’s so strange to see these figures from the “Gay Nineties” as living and breathing figures, even if the images are scratched and faded. We moderns rarely appreciate just how precious such artifacts are, how amazing film really is.

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