Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the Beginning

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…


Ok, so maybe the setting isn’t “in a galaxy far far away” and the year wasn’t that long ago, but the introduction would probably fit the story of our time very well to a person from the late nineteenth century. In Star Wars, they use lasers to fight with, had robots to do their bidding, spaceships to get them across the galaxy, futuristic medicine, and the list goes on and on. Could you possibly imagine having any of that technology right now? A spaceship that could take you across the galaxy in just a few moments would be revolutionary, the start of a new age, and yet, to the characters of this series, it is normal. Thus is the way with motion pictures, or film. We have videos everywhere: on the TV at home, on the internet, in Wal-Mart, in our cars, on our cell phones, on our iPods or mp3 players, on airplanes, even on the side of the road like the new UCA sign. To us, films are normal, but to that person in the late nineteenth century, the idea is revolutionary.

As I watch a few of the first films made, I’ll admit that I got bored at a few parts; such as when the crowds are walking out of the building at the beginning of the Lumiere Brothers' First Films. The film just seemed to be the same thing over and over again. And then, I thought about when my family watched The Pink Panther. We got to the part where Steven Martin is trying to say “hamburger” in his hyperbolic French accent, a hilarious part. Well, my brother liked it so much that he stopped the movie, went back to the beginning of that scene, and watched it again and again and again. It was after about the sixth time that we finally pounced on him to let the movie continue. If it is unexpected and enjoyable, I would want to see it over and over again. It was the same way with early films; they may have been about simple, repetitive, everyday things, but the audience was seeing these things without even being there! Motion pictures were like technology from Star Wars to them. The Lumiere Brothers’ films, Edison’s films, Melies' films, they were the coolest thing around. And even now after watching several early films, they hold a nostalgic cool to me because of their simplicity and life.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you tried to relate to the experiences of the first movie-goers. It can be hard for us, in the age of information and constant sensory bombardment, to understand the awe they must have felt. Can you think of any other examples that has held the same awe for you as it would have the first movie-goers?