This essay will endeavour to look critically at the development of cinematic practices between 1895 and 1940. Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian dog) (1928) and Birth of a Nation (1915) will be examined, with consideration to their impact on cinematic practices: both technical and theoretical.
The first commercial film ever was screened during the Christmas of 1895 to a paying public at the Grand Parade CafÃÂ© in France. This is seen as the invention of cinema. During the next twenty years cinema developed from short silent films to long, plot driven epics.
Early cinema was exceptionally simple in form and style, typically only consisting of a single shot framing an action, usually at long-shot distance for example in Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat by the Lumiere brothers. The shot does not move and films people alighting a train, waving, and moving on. Plot was quickly introduced; particularly notably in L'Arroseur arose also by the Lumiere brothers in which a young boy tricks a gardener into spraying himself with a hose.
As film became a more popular medium, the pressure was on to create more impressive films to lure in paying audiences. Georges Meilies who was formally a magician purchased a projector and camera and created his own glass sided studio. With the need for more variety in the industry and his experience as a magician, Meilies found ways of creating simple special effects and fantasy sets, even producing a version of Cinderella (1899). From 1904 onwards, narrative form became the major form of filmmaking in commercial industry.
The Birth Of A Nation (1915) was created by D.W Griffiths as a development of Thomas Dixons novel The Clansmen. Griffith was a son of a confederate colonel and was interested in conveying the feelings of people living in the south...