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The Movies Begin - A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1913

DVD | Box Set

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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(Feb 12, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A Five-Volume Boxed Set. The Great Train Robbery And Other Primary Works. The genesis of the motion picture medium is vividly recreated in this unprecedented collection of the cinema's formative works. More than crucial historical artifacts, these films reveal the foundation from which the styles and stories of the contemporary cinema would later arise. The European Pioneers. While some may consider the cinema a distinctly American invention, the most influential figures during its infancy were two brothers in France: Auguste and Louis Lumiere. In the beginning, they dominated world film production and distribution. Through the magic of cinema, such ordinary sights as the demolition of a wall, the arrival of a train, a family enjoying breakfast or workers exiting a factory were transformed into mystifying spectacles of light and motion, having their premiere on December 28, 1895. Experimentation And Discovery. More than any other decade, the first ten years of the moving picture saw the greatest amount of experimentation and development. Ranging from the ingeniously creative to the audacious, the films represented in this volume offer a sampling of the primitive masterworks that allowed the technical novelty of the cinema to so quickly flourish into an artistically expressive medium. The Magic Of Melies. Decades before the term "special effects" was coined, audiences of the newborn cinema were witnessing spectacular screen illusions, courtesy of the medium's first master magician: George Melies. The films collected on this disc offer an unparalleled view of Melies's career, introducing the viewer to the rich body of work that lies beyond A Trip To The Moon (1902), which is featured in Volume One of The Movies Begin. Comedy, Spectacle And New Horizons. By 1907 the cinema's initial growing pains had subsided and fairly distinct generic categories of production were established. This volume of The Movies Begin examines some of these integral works that begin to reflect the modern day cinema - punctuated with authentic hand-tinted lantern slides used during early theatrical exhibition.

The home-video revolution has yielded a wealth of valuable compilations, but few are as miraculously definitive as The Movies Begin. Equally suited to home or classroom viewing, this authoritative five-volume set is a vital document of film history, providing a one-stop destination for anyone wishing to witness the first two decades of motion pictures. That period--from 1894 to 1913--saw movies develop at a breakneck pace, from the earliest "actualities" of the Lumière brothers in France to D.W. Griffith's audacious development of dramatic action in the Biograph shorts of the early 1910s. Sensibly organized into pivotal stages of technical and creative progress, each of these volumes represents the priceless value of film preservation; all 133 films in the set are presented in the finest condition available, from archival prints to complete restorations, and accompanied by music that perfectly captures the spirit of each film and the time of their creation.

Under the expert guidance of film historian David Shepard, this collection is uniquely comprehensive, with fact, fiction, and fantasy represented in equal measure. All major figures are included; it's fitting that one volume is devoted to astonishing shorts by movie magician Georges Méliès, while other volumes serve as "greatest hits" compilations of movie innovations by Edwin S. Porter, Cecil Hepworth, Max Linder, Alice Guy Blanche, and many others. The breathtaking growth of movies is fully apparent by volume 5 ("Comedy, Spectacle, and New Horizons"); most viewers will find this the most entertaining, but each volume is a revelation, offering films that haven't been widely seen since they were first produced. To understand and appreciate the foundation upon which modern filmmaking is built, The Movies Begin is truly essential. --Jeff Shannon

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Film Preservation Associates, British Film Institute
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2002
  • Run Time: 379 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005YUO9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,140 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Movies Begin - A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1913" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
To the casual movie viewer, the history of cinema begins in the 1930s, when silents were totally replaced with the new talkie medium. Beyond an occasional showing of The Phantom of the Opera or a few Keaton or Chaplin movies, silents- and especially early silents- are a part of the murky past. This collection is a real eye opener to either a movie fan who wants to broaden their knowledge or someone who, like me, is a silent movie fan who wants to see how it all began.
This collection offers a broad variety. From early melodramas and comedies to newsreel footage and special effects vehicles. The two most famous early silents- The Great Train Robbery and A Trip to the Moon- are shown here but other, more unusual films such as the Golden Beetle and the Grass Widower are also allowed to shine. The picture quality is excellant especially considering the age of these films.
The music by Robert Israel is wonderful, always appropriate and quite a bit less sober than most silent movie music. Even my mother, who likes silents but dislikes silent movie music enjoyed it. It should please both purists and casual fans.
One fault I found with this collection is that some movies have narration whether you want it or not. It surely would not have been difficult to include an on/off function for the commentary track. Also, at points the sound is badly mixed so that the music drowns out the narrator. However, this fairly minor flaw did not ruin my enjoyment of the collection.
I particularly enjoyed the pre-WWI French films, it is easy to see why the French imports could outshine much of the American output. They are beautifully produced, make no bones about their staginess and have an element of playful fantasy.
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Format: DVD
This is an incredible collection of 133 complete films from the earliest days of cinema. The first 20 years of movies are covered, with numerous examples from many of the pioneers of the cinema. The condition of these old pieces of film is often less than stellar, but they are almost always fascinating as we see the development of cinema as it happens before us. The five-disc set is broken down by topic, with a certain unavoidable amount of overlap.

Disc One: The Great Train Robbery and Other Primary Works

The motion picture had its beginnings in the sequential photography of Eadweard Muybridge. In a short film, about ten of Muybridge's sequences are presented in real time, providing the illusion of movement. That led to the kinetoscope of Edison, and a number of his kinetoscopes from the late 1890s are included. Among these are "The Kiss" and "Feeding the Doves". The next important development came with the work of the Lumiére brothers in Paris. They first developed a way to project motion pictures, and a number of their 50-foot films of such items as a day at the zoo, the beach, babies fighting and other slices of life, such as workmen loading a boiler, make up their 15 works presented on this disc.

While the movies were a popular novelty, two works of 1902 and 1903, Georges Mèliés' "A Trip to the Moon" and Edwin S. Porter's "The Great Train Robbery", paved the way for the motion picture industry we know now. Each used a greater length to tell an extended story and, in Mèliés' film, we find the importance of special effects and lavish set design made clear. While somewhat awkward and peculiar to modern eyes, it's clear to see how "Trip to the Moon" became the first blockbuster motion picture hit.
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Format: DVD
This set contains over 100 films from the early days of the silent cinema - beginning with some of the early serial photography experiments by Edward Muybridge.
We see the works of the Edison Studio, the early Lumiere Brothers films, and a great selection of Melies films.
Most amazing to me were the tinted films from the Pathe Freres company. There are two films that are absolutely astounding, as every frame of the film was tinted by hand. The colors are vibrant and surprisingly consistent. Friends who have watched these films have come away simply shocked.
The films presented here are not all interesting. There are quite a few films from the infancy of cinema, when the camera was used to create scenes that are really the equivalent of postcards, where a still camera would have produced the same effect. Many films are incomplete, a sad fact of cinema preservation, and often frustrating when you don't get to see the second half of the film! There are no Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Fatty Arbuckle films to be seen here, and only one D.W. Griffith film. (Griffith will be well represented in a future release put together by David Shepherd's "Film Preservation Associates" on Image DVD.)
What is here are the true beginnings of an art form, the experiments that made film what it is now. There are also excellent program notes by Charles Musser, which really help explain what is being seen, especially when parts of a film are missing. Kudos to the Kino company for including these notes!
If you are a cinema nut, and interested in the origins of film, then this set is highly recommended!
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