We live in an era of wonderful technology with streaming videos that I never imagined as a kid.
I look back on the history of movies and I am in awe of the imaginations and wonder and inventions that made it all possible.
I would spend my time after school and during summers watching classic films on AMC and TMC. I roamed Blockbuster and indie rental shops. I collected favorite films. I love having access to various films with streaming.
I love sharing my love of movies with my children.
There is a plethora of topics in film. It would take years to learn all the details, but I can outline a few that I discuss with my kids.
I like to watch movies like I read books. We discuss archetypes, themes, symbolism, method, theory.
Film is a great way to learn history, science, review literature, and enjoy science fiction and speculative fiction topics.
We often check out DVDs from the library. We stream movies and shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+. We also have a vast collection.
Cinema Topics Discussion:
McCarthyism and blacklisting during the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s.
How is the use of propaganda and advertising in film and video media used?
The Bechdel Test, or Bechdel–Wallace Test, is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.
The #MeToo Movement and Weinstein (and others) sexual assault cases.
Minority representation – race, gender, sexual orientation and stereotypes portrayed in film. We need to talk about how people are portrayed in film. Compare films from decades ago (and there’s sure to be another dang remake or reboot soon) and recent films. Did they improve their stereotypes or dialogue?
How is mental illness portrayed? Is it accurate, stereotyped, toned down, or acceptable?
How are villains idolized? Has the good vs. evil theme changed over the decades? Is it more gray or blurred now?
Censorship has evolved over the decades. Should films with questionable or offensive or outdated content be censored or unavailable?
Awards events are popular to watch, even if it’s just to see the red carpet costumes. Which movies are most represented and nominated for awards? Who are the sponsors, judges, announcers?
In 1891, the Edison Company in the USA successfully demonstrated a prototype of the Kinetoscope, which enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures.
The first to present projected moving pictures to a paying audience were the Lumière brothers in December 1895 in Paris.
Silent Film Era
The work of Muybridge, Marey, and Le Prince laid the foundation for future development of motion picture cameras, projectors and transparent celluloid film, which lead to the development of cinema as we know it today. American inventor George Eastman, who had first manufactured photographic dry plates in 1878, made headway on a stable type of celluloid film in 1888 of sensitized paper roll photographic film (instead of metal or glass plates) and a convenient “Kodak” small box camera (a still camera) that used the roll film. He later further improved the paper roll film with his 1889 invention: perforated celluloid.
From the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films.
The first feature-length movie incorporating synchronised dialogue, The Jazz Singer in 1927, used the Warner Brothers’ Vitaphone system, which employed a separate record disc with each reel of film for the sound.
The Technicolor process, perfected in 1932, originally used a beam-splitting optical cube, in combination with the camera lens, to expose three black-and-white films. Each image was captured simultaneously on a separate band of black-and-white film.
During the 1930s and 1940s, cinema was the principal form of popular entertainment in the USA and is considered The Golden Age.
The House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Hollywood in the early 1950s. This decade marked a “golden age” for non-English world cinema, especially in Asia. Television caused many film theatres to close.
The 1960s saw a rise in British and French film.
The production code was replaced in 1968 by the MPAA film rating system.
The 1970s saw an increasing popularity of the auteur theory, which assumes a film director’s films express their personal vision and creative insights. Also, a rise of West German cinema. Called the “post-classical” era, films from this decade are characterized by shady protagonists, endings with a twist and flashbacks. Adult cinemas also were popular, but died out in the 1980s when the VCR allowed home viewing.
Bollywood was coined for the growing Hindi film industry in Mumbai that dominates South Asian cinema. Hindi filmmakers combined the Hollywood musical formula with the conventions of ancient Indian theatre to create a new film genre called “Masala.” These films portray action, comedy, drama, romance, and melodrama all at once, with “filmi” song and dance routines thrown in.
The 1980s saw the rise of Hong Kong action cinema and huge blockbuster Hollywood hits.
First British multiplex at Milton Keynes in 1985. The rise of the multiplex cinema did not allow fewer mainstream films to be shown, but allowed major blockbusters to get an even greater number of screenings. Films that were overlooked in cinemas were increasingly being given a second chance on home video.
The 1990s saw popularity in indie film to finance and produce non-mainstream fare. Special effects films were spectacular. DVDs replaced VCRs for home viewing media.
The 2000s saw increasing globalization of cinema.
After 2010, the largest film industries by number of feature films produced were those of India, the United States, China, Nigeria and Japan.
3D and IMAX
3D films have existed in some form since 1915. The earliest confirmed 3D film shown to an out-of-house audience was The Power of Love, which premiered at the Ambassador Hotel Theater in Los Angeles on September 27, 1922.
The standard for shooting live-action films in 3D involves using two cameras mounted so that their lenses are about as far apart from each other as the average pair of human eyes, recording two separate images for both the left eye and the right eye.
The first IMAX cinema projection standards were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Canada. The IMAX film standard uses 70 mm film run through the projector horizontally.
3D films were prominently featured in the 1950s in American cinema, and later experienced a worldwide resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s driven by IMAX high-end theaters and Disney-themed venues.
Wow, this is a whole other unit study. My youngest daughter is fascinated by animation and we love learning about it.
- Shadow play
- Magic Lantern
- Stop Motion
- Feature films
I want my kids to have a wide range of knowledge of cartoons in all their joy. They’ve watched all the stuff I watched as a kid. We really love Anime like Studio Ghibli and how gorgeous the drawings are.
Television networks are in control of the most valuable prime time slots available for programming, so syndicators of independent television films have to settle for fewer television markets and less desirable time periods. This means much smaller advertising revenues and license fees compared with network-supplied programming.
Cable television originated in the United States almost simultaneously in Arkansas, Oregon and Pennsylvania in 1948 to enhance poor reception of over-the-air television signals in mountainous or geographically remote areas.
By 1952, 70 “cable” systems served 14,000 subscribers nationwide.
By 1962, almost 800 cable systems serving 850,000 subscribers were in business.
In 1972, Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin of Sterling Manhattan Cable launched the nation’s first pay-TV network, Home Box Office (HBO). This venture led to the creation of a national satellite distribution system that used a newly approved domestic satellite transmission. Satellites changed the business dramatically, paving the way for the explosive growth of program networks.
Deregulation provided by the 1984 Act had a strong positive effect on the rapid growth of cable services. From 1984 through 1992, the industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America, and billions more on program development. This was the largest private construction project since World War II.
In 1998, America On-Line moved on an historic merger with Time Warner and its cable properties to form AOL Time Warner.
In 2001, AT&T agreed to fold its cable systems with those of Comcast Corp., creating the largest ever cable operator with more than 22 million customers.
The digital TV transition leapt forward in 2003, as substantial gains were made in the deployment of High-Definition Television (HDTV), Video-on-Demand (VOD), digital cable, and other advanced services.
Cable Operators have reinvented television, creating TV that goes where customers go. Wherever you are, on whatever device you choose.
The first VCR player was developed by the Ampex Corporation – VRX-1000 in 1956.
The first DVD player was the Toshiba SD-3000. It was first released over in Japan November, 1996, and was crazy expensive.
“Streaming” was applied in the early 1990s as a better description for video on demand and later live video on IP networks. It was first done by Starlight Networks for video streaming and Real Networks for audio streaming.
Copyright infringement of films has run rampant.
It’s amazing how technology has changed and how much movies mean to us throughout history.
- Film History by Decade
- AFI Readers
- Top 100 Movies of All Time by AFI
- The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark by Robert K. K. Elder
- Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares by John Landis
- 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
- Teach with Movies
- Teaching History with Film
- Teaching with Film
- Teaching Film History to Production Students
- 7 Ways to Watch a Film Critically
- Lapbook Any Movie
- Movie Theme Notebooking
- Note Taking Strategies (not just for films)
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
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