Week Nine: Second Beginnings
Hyde Park Corner, dir. William Friese-Greene (1889)
With lots of shows and generally being busy this week I decided to get a bunch of early stuff out of the way. I finished a few years at the beginning but after another nearly two months I realized I was falling behind on those early pictures.
Hyde Park Corner is exactly what it sounds like. Director William Friese-Greene made multiple pictures that were simply studies of everyday people. While it isn't anything outstanding it is a time capsule of mundane city life in the late 1800s
Monkeyshines, No. 1, dir. William K.L. Dickson & William Heise (1890)
If you thought Hyde Park Corner was boring wait until you watch this blurry mess of a "film." This is believed to be the first picture ever shot in the United States and was shot pretty much just to test out a Kinescope.
Men Boxing, dir. William K.L. Dickson & William Heise (1891)
Here is the action! That's what I'm talking about! I want more films that are just buys punching each other in grainy black and white. Notably, this film was shot by the same director as the the last film and used for a similar purpose.
Poor Pierrot, dir. Émile Reynaud (1892)
This was a surprise to me; I was taught about Gerdy, an animated dinosaur from 1914, was one of the earliest but this came out a whole 12 years before. It's longer than the others I watched for this week coming in at an astounding four minutes.
Blacksmith Scene, dir. William K.L. Dickson & William Heise (1893)
While this short film of men working in a Blacksmith shop and passing around a bottle seems like nothing notably, it is the first film to have "acting" in it. Previously, the majority of films had been everyday life, short performances, or even animation. This is really the first time a story was shown with live actors.
Dickson Experimental Sound Film, dir. William K.L. Dickson & William Heise (1894)
We are just going down the list of innovations. Dickson Experimental Sound Film was the first picture to attempt sound recording. While it's not in the vein that we would assume, the music was played by a man in the shot while the sound was recorded straight onto a record. It can also be recognized as the first depiction of affection between men if you don't count getting drunk together.
Photograph, dir. Louis Lumière (1895)
This one continues the trend Blacksmith Scene started and even takes it to the next level. Appearing as a more narrative driven story, Photograph shows a photographer trying to take a photo of another man. I would even say this is a very early attempt at the slapstick style. Slapstick was popularized by comedic silent actors like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.