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Facts about movies - motion pictures

In this article you will find a question not only about the motion pictures of the 1920s but also about the history facts of the film industry as a whole

Going to the movies is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. We go to be thrilled by gun-battles and saloon brawls in westerns, delighted by the singing and dancing in colorful musicals, amused by animated cartoons, and informed by documentaries and newsreels. These are among the most important kinds of motion pictures.

First motion pictures, France 1895 - Lumiere brothers Motion pictures of the 1920s

Motion pictures of the 1920s etc

The first public showings of motion pictures were given in France in 1895 by the Lumiere brothers. This movie of a train arriving at a station made people jump up to get out of the way

Movies were silent until 1927 and actors used exaggerated gestures and expressions to convey meaning. This scene is from Way Down East starring Mary Pickford

The producer controls the making of commercial motion pictures. He supervises the whole project and helps to select the cast of actors and actresses to play in it. The director controls the actual filming of the scenes and is usually held to be responsible for the artistic quality of the final motion picture. The screen writer prepares the script from which the actors learn their lines. There are also many designers, craftsmen and technicians, including the film editors, or cutters, who have a vital role in shaping the final version of the movie.

The greater part of most movies is taken, or shot, in a motion picture studio. Realistic sets, or backgrounds, are built to resemble rooms, buildings and streets. Most of the sets are merely supported shells. Often scenes are taken on location outside the studio to heighten the realism. At the end of the filming, the exposed film strip in the cameras is processed. The director and film editors then choose the scenes to include in the motion picture and decide the order in which the shots will appear. The cine camera works on the same principle as the still camera, but takes a series of still shots in quick succession. The film strip used is exactly the same as that used in still cameras. And it is developed, or processed in much the same way. (See Photography - interesting facts about photography)

Motion pictures of the 1920s Motion pictures of the 1920s

Motion pictures

Epic movies have been popular since World War I at 1920s, and ancient Rome has probably been the subject of more epic movies than anything else

Scene from the historical motion picture Anne of a Thousand Days

The camera takes 24 separate shots, or frames, every second. A claw mechanism holds the film strip still while each frame is shot and then moves the next frame into position. A half disc shields the film while it is being moved to prevent blurring of the image.

The sound for the movie is picked up by microphones suspended on long poles, or booms, above the actors but out of sight of the cameras. The microphone changes sound into a varying electric current. This current is converted into a varying pattern of light, which is recorded as a sound track on the edge of the film strip.

When the movie is completed, it can be shown through a projector. In the projector, a bright light from an electric-arc lamp shines through the film strip and throws a magnified image onto a white screen. It projects 24 frames every second - the same rate at which the camera took them. It has a device for blocking off the light while the film is actually moving from frame to frame. This means, of course, that the screen is dark between frames. But we do not notice this because our eyes continue to see the previous frame. This is called persistence of vision. It enables us to see the separate frames as a continuous moving picture.

A movie projector Old camera - Mootion pictures of the 1920s

Motion pictures

A movie projector contains two sources of light, one to produce the picture and one to produce the sound. Light from the lamp passes through the sound track to the photocell, where a varying electric signal is produced as the film moves. The signal is amplified and fed to the loud-speakers. Left - old movie camera (1928)

Light-sensitive cells in the projector convert the sound track back into sound, which is relayed to loud-speakers behind the screen. Early films, however, were silent. The first ones were made in 1895. But before then various people had invented devices which relied on the persistence of vision to give the illusion of movement. They included the phenakistoscope (1832), the zoetrope (1860), and the kinetograph (1868). In 1894, the American inventor Thomas Edison showed short films in a cabinet called a kinetoscope.

In 1895, movies were first projected successfully, and the motion picture industry had begun. Movies were first shown in fairgrounds and as items in vaudeville shows. However, theaters were soon built especially to show movies. Movies were sometimes called 'flicks' because of the flickering of the screen. This happened because they were projected at only 16 frames a second.

Facts about motion pictures of the 1920s - until 1927, movies were silent. Pianists in the motion picture theaters provided background music to suit the action on the screen. However, most of the techniques of movie making were established in the days of silent motion pictures. One of the greatest of the early pioneers was David Wark Griffith (1880-1948). He was the first director to develop the 'close-up', the 'fade-out' and the 'flash-back' for dramatic effect. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915) was the first full-length motion picture.

In 1927, Al Jolson starred in The Jazz Singer, the first successful sound movie. From then on, the motion picture industry developed rapidly. In the 1950s, the wide-screen processes of Cinerama, Cinemascope and Todd-ÀÎ were introduced. The popularity of television caused a drop in attendance at movies in the 1950s and 1960s. However, movies of quality still attract audiences all over the world.

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