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Edison - The Invention of the Movies
(DVD)


Truly an event to be celebrated by cinephiles, this collection of early silent film, dating from 1891 and 1918, provides a look at the origins of cinema that is unparalleled in its comprehensiveness. During this time, the Edison Company was responsible for both technological advancements in cinematic equipment, and for creative innovation within the medium; directors working under Edison's auspices were responsible for many early advancements in the filmic language. Thus, included in this selection of over 140 films, is Edwin S. Porter's THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903, 10 min.), which displays the first use of parallel editing and the first pan shot. Other films by Porter are a wealth of information and insight into how and why film developed as it did. Porter's work paved the way for D.W. Griffith's revolutionary BIRTH OF A NATION, also present in the collection. The vast array of films included, presented in chronological order, exemplify many milestones of cinema that have been unavailable or rarely seen until now. This includes some early stop motion animation, outrageous special effects, and a hand-painted 1906 film (THREE AMERICAN BEAUTIES). The shorts span a wide variety of genres, from comedy (HOW A FRENCH NOBLEMAN FOUND A WIFE...) to educational films (THE WONDERS OF MAGNETISM); fantasy (JACK AND THE BEANSTALK) to documentary (THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CARE OF INFANTS); and westerns (AT BEAR TRACK GULCH) to crime drama (THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY). Commentary from scholars of silent film and Edison himself is interspersed among the films, providing insightful historical context and artistic exposition. The experts include Charles Musser, Yale University Professor of Film and American Studies and the world's leading expert on Edison films; Eileen Bowser, Curator Emerita at The Museum of Modern Art; and Paul Israel, Director and editor of the Edison Papers; among many others.

GENRES - documentary