The Oxford History of World Cinema - Geoffrey Nowell Smith


Cinema Illusory motion began as a novelty in few big cities - New York, Paris, London, Berlin

films went from short attractions and novelties → couple of minutes long → feature length

Cinema was invented by French, German, American, and British but, French and Americans were the biggest exporters Italy joined soon

Post WWI, US became dominant Hollywood became the lead artistically and industrially

Why? The First World War caused a fall in the European Film Industry, the American Industry grew. Rise of Hollywood


  • 1878: Eadweard Muybridge creates The Horse in Motion, one of the first motion pictures.
  • 1888: Louis Le Prince films Roundhay Garden Scene, the oldest surviving film in existence.
  • 1891: Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, a device that allows one person to view moving pictures.
  • 1895: The Lumière brothers invent the CinĂ©matographe, a device that can record and project films. They hold the first public screening of their films in Paris.

Wrongly Believed

It is said that “Arrival of Train” was the first film to be screened publicly by the Lumiere Brothers but this is incorrect. There’s no evidence that it was part of the films that were shown on that particular day

  • 1896: Georges MĂ©liès makes A Trip to the Moon, one of the first narrative films with special effects.
  • 1903: Edwin S. Porter directs The Great Train Robbery, one of the first westerns and one of the first films to use editing and cross-cutting.
  • 1905: The first nickelodeon, a small movie theater that charges five cents for admission, opens in Pittsburgh.
  • 1907: The first film studio, the Nestor Film Company, is founded in Hollywood by David Horsley and Al Christie.
  • 1915: D.W. Griffith releases The Birth of a Nation, a controversial but influential epic that popularizes many cinematic techniques.
  • 1922: The first public demonstration of color film, using the Technicolor process, takes place in New York.
  • 1926: Don Juan
  • 1927: The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, is released as the first feature-length film with synchronized sound and dialogue.


pre-1907 film is often accused of being more theatrical than cinematic

until 1907, filmmakers concerned themselves with the individual shot, preserving the spatial aspects

was first one-shot actualities^[aka documentaries or just the world as it happened]


First, it was hand coloured with delicate brushes it was arduous

1896 → hand coloured Pathe in 1906 → patented a mechanical method of colouring the base called Pathecolor; aka stencil

Less expensive ways of colouring -

  1. Tinting
  2. Toning
  3. Mordanting

1899 → superimposition of red, green, and blue 1906→ George Albert Smith Kinemacolor; semi-transparent disc divided into two sectors: red and blue-green

1915→ FIRST colour sensitive emulsion invented by Eastman Kodak, was marketed under the trademark Kodachrome


Silent Film, Slapstick Comedy


France dominated before the World War. Paris was the epicentre of the cinema industry. This shifted to Los Angeles in the 1910s; After WWI, American hegemony of Cinema;

rise of permanent venues, the nickelodeons that began to appear in numbers in 1906, made the film industry a much more profitable business, encouraging

1890s - 1910s → Pre-Hollywood

1910 → start of Hollywood

1913 - Cinema was becoming a more established industry


No single source; no single time period can go back to Camera Obscura in Italy, 16th Century Different people in different countries. For example - Lumiere Brothers, (?e)

Kinetoscope → Edison → 1893 Grand Cafe → Lumiere Brothers → Dec 1895 Max Skladanowsky → few months before Lumiere Brothers’ demonstration

Lumieres’ Cinematographe

→ mainly showed documentary material and made France an established leader in cinema

Rise of Hollywood

around 1910, number of companies set up business in a small suburb of Hollywood to the west of LA

rise of the studio-system - concentrating production into vast factory-like studios, and by vertically integrating all aspects of the business, from production to publicity to distribution to exhibition


1889, American inventor Thomas Edison assigned a lab assistant, William Kennedy Dickson, to help develop a device that could produce visuals to accompany the sounds produced from the phonograph 1891 Edison patented the “kinetoscope” peep-box viewer half a minute of motion picture

Kinetoscope quickly became a global sensation with multiple viewing parlors across major cities by 1890s