This authoritative number of introductory and really good readings explores the wealthy and leading edge heritage of this era in American cinema. Spanning a vital diversity of topics from the early 1900s Nickelodeon to the decline of the studio approach within the Nineteen Sixties, it combines a extensive historic context with cautious readings of person movies.
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Extra resources for American Film History: Selected Readings, Origins to 1960
American Film History: Selected Readings, Origins to 1960, First Edition. Edited by Cynthia Lucia, Roy Grundmann, and Art Simon. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. D. W. GRIFFITH AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN NARRATIVE CINEMA Opposition to understanding Griffith as a key transitional figure derives less from any hesitation about his talent and more from the distinctiveness of his output. The debate focuses on whether we should label Griffith as a representative director of this period: While he may be the era’s most celebrated filmmaker, does he actually define that era?
GRIFFITH AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN NARRATIVE CINEMA most abstract employment of editing until the ambitious experiment of Intolerance: Cuts draw parallels emphasizing the nature of social relations, most pointedly in the alternation between shots of the Wheat King’s feast and those of the starving masses at the bakery. Griffith’s approach to composition mirrors his use of editing, insofar as a number of the shots are selfconsciously posed, not only the second and final shots of farmers sowing wheat in their field (modeled after Millet’s painting The Sower) and the famous tableau of the bread line in the bakery, but also the first shot in the Wheat King’s office, where his lackeys stand virtually rooted in place while he issues orders.
Yet the formal unity scarcely provides release from the pall of death in the previous shot; instead, the rhyming pans measure the loss experienced over the course of the narrative. The opening pan begins by capturing a peaceful haven, identified as the Valley of Stillwater by an accompanying intertitle. The camera movement then gradually sweeps over a pastoral landscape to reveal the doctor’s happy family emerging from their home. In the corresponding final pan, the point of departure for the camera movement is the closed door of the house, death having cut short any subsequent familial sojourns.
American Film History: Selected Readings, Origins to 1960