The evolution of film has changed drastically over the years, bringing us from silent films to more recent blockbuster hits. From the advancement of technology and the influence of cinema culture, film has impacted the lives of many, leaving many unforgettable memories and inspiring a number of remakes, sequels, and genre films. This article will look into the history and development of film, and analyze the effects throughout the decades up to the present day.
The Birth of Cinema
Prior to the emergence of cinema, backdrops were used to create illusions of movement, with mechanical devices like the phénakisticope drawing the audience into a false reality. In 1895, the Lumiere brothers debuted their film (“Arrival of a Train”) to a stunned audience, and soon, other pioneers like Thomas Edison, George Méliès, D.W. Griffith, and many others experimented with this new medium in order to create the world’s first cinematic experiences.
The Golden Age of Silent Film
The early 20th century marked a crucial period of development for the film industry. The era centred around silent films, due to the fact that sound had not yet been invented. Movies such as The Great Train Robbery (1903), 1908’s Frankenstein, The Birth of a Nation (1915), and Charlie Chaplin’s iconic The Gold Rush (1925) all resonated with audiences and unleashed the potential of the art form.
Silent films were almost entirely dependent on imagery and physical comedy, which meant that filmmakers needed to craft engaging stories that would be both entertaining and have the power to emotionally move the audience. It also saw the movie studios begin to form, such as First National Pictures, Paramount Pictures, United Artists, and Hollywood-based Warner Bros.
The Advent of Sound
The introduction of sound had a major impact on the landscape of film. In 1927, Warner Bros.’ The Jazz Singer was released and marked the introduction of a new cinematic world. This saw the rise of musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and the musical biography of Judy Garland in A Star Is Born (1954). The 30s and 40s were popular with “screwball comedies” like Bringing Up Baby (1938) and romantic dramas such as Casablanca (1942).
The Evolution of Special Effects
The early technological advancements within the film industry saw the emergence of special effects. This allowed filmmakers to create fantastical worlds with sweeping landscapes and thrilling action sequences. As time went on, special effects became more advanced, allowing for the further blurring of reality and fantasy.
One of the biggest turning points for special effects came in 1968, with the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie was revolutionary in terms of its futuristic settings (a space station, nuclear submarines, and interplanetary travel) and even today stands as a milestone for digital effects. From there, movies like Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) all pushed the boundaries of what was possible and proudly showcased the art of visual effects.
The Rise of Blockbuster Movies
In the 1980s, the Hollywood blockbusters and the home video market began to dominate the industry. Movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and Die Hard changed the way we view and appreciate films.
The 90s and 2000s saw the emergence of computer-generated imagery (CGI) which allowed filmmakers to create even more realistic and engaging sequences. This was an integral part of franchises like The Matrix (1999), Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), and Avatar (2009).
However, the independent film movement also gained momentum around this time. Indie filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Darren Aronofsky had enormous success and provided original work through their low-budget, creative stories.
The Current Film Landscape
We are now in an age where the evolution of film has enabled boundary-pushing movies to dominate the big screen. Key elements of this genre include franchise films, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the upcoming Fast and Furious 9, sequels and remakes of classic films, such as Disney’s The Lion King (2019) and the new Ghostbusters (2020), and smaller-budget films such as Parasite (2019) and The Revenant (2015).
These movies are made easier with the various streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime, and film festivals such as SXSW, Tribeca, and Toronto have increased the visibility of lesser-known independent films.
The evolution of film is a long and intricate process that has shaped modern day cinema. From its humble beginnings to the current state of the industry, we have seen the advancement of technology, improved editing techniques, special effects, and the eventual rise of streaming services. As filmmakers continue to experiment and push the boundaries of this art form, we are sure to experience even more extraordinary films in the future.