Head to film school and one of things you’ll spend a lot of time learning is film history. For good reason: the more you understand the context and language of cinema, the better your ability will be to innovate in you own filmmaking.
But film school is long and expensive and history books are long and boring.
Fortunately for the rest of us, CrashCourse has once again saved the day by compressing the vast breadth of film history into a handful of 10 minute-ish videos.
In this first episode we learn about the technological precursors to film. So…not actually the history of film, more the history of primitive photography. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
The first movies
Here we get into the story of Edison (and his employees) and the invention of the first commercial movie camera. This is actually a great introduction to the mechanical technology of film-based cameras and projection equipment (2:00).
The video continues to trace the beginnings of the exhibition with kinetoscope parlors (4:45) and the establishment of the first movie production studio (5:30).
Also covered: the influence of Vaudeville (6:15) and limitations of Edison’s system (7:40).
Moving on from Edison
In this video we learn about he Lumiere brothers and first mass audience projection system (0:50), Messter’s feed mechanism (2:20), the first official public film exhibition (3:47), debunking the first movie myths (4:40), lucrative nature of film from the start (6:27), competing inventions (6:40), Latham’s projection feeder (7:07), documentary as the first longform film (8:00),
The birth of narrative storytelling in film
Time to discover the transition to narrative storytelling in movies with Georges Méliès. Here we learn about the advent of editing (1:18) (well they didn’t have Moviolas yet, so they had to make do with inferior methods for a few more years…), the beginning of visual effects (2:25), the first film cut (3:10), double exposure (4:10), split screen (4:24), in-camera mattes (4:42), Méliès‘ contemporaries (6:15), A Trip to the Moon (6:37), the first use of color in film (8:10),
The evolution of cinematic language
This video delves into the development of cinematic storytelling language, starting with Edwin S. Porter (1:58), the use of live music and sound in early films (2:23), parallel action (cross-cutting) (3:25), Life of an American Fireman (4:05), The Great Train Robbery (4:42), the introduction of pan and tilt camera movement (6:45).
The advent of feature-length films
In this video CrashCourse covers the development of the full-length feature, starting with the introduction of the studio system (1:25), distributors (1:35), and exhibitors (1:46). We then move on to the early days of intellectual property laws in film (3:25), patent wars (3:57), the Motion Picture Patents company (4:20), the Motion Picture Distributing and Sales Company (5:04), the start of Hollywood (5:12), MPPC monopoly break-up (5:23), The Crusaders (6:10), D.W.Griffith (6:28), the advent of the close-up, insert shots, and flashbacks (6:57), Birth of a Nation (7:40), Within Our Gates (8:40).
International filmmaking and German Expressionism
Time to turn attention away from the Americo-centric film industry and look at filmmaking around the world. Covered topics: the effect of WWI on the global film industry (1:15), Autorenfilm (1:58), military takeover of German film industry (2:26), Weimar Period (3:07), Kostumfilme (3:35), Madame DuBarry (3:55), The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (4:32), Mise-en-scène (5:10), German Expressionism (5:50), propogation of expressionism to other countries (6:33), Fritz Lang (6:57), Metropolis (7:21), F.W.Murnau (7:50), and the unchained camera (8:30).
Russia is certainly one of the most significant contributors to filmmaking. This video covers government involvement in fimmaking in Russia (1:00), government takeover of studios (1:28), film study from necessity (1:45), world’s first film school (2:15), Kuleshov (2:25), Creative Geography (3:26), introduction to Soviet Montage (3:42), Discontinuity Editing (4:09), Intellectual Montage (4:26), Tonal Montage (4:42), Metric Montage (5:20), Rhythmic Montage (6:00), Overtonal Montage (6:21), Sergei Eisenstein and Battleship Potemkin (7:42), Propaganda (8:36), Dziga Vertov (9:08), The Man with the Movie camera (9:40), Socialist Realism (10:50),
The Golden Age of Silent Cinema
In this section CrashCourse covers the rise of the studio system and the modern idea of the movie star. Covered: the studio system (1:02), the three principle studios (1:40), United Artists (2:00), MGM (2:24), the others (2:50), Thomas Ince (3:08), formulation of the modern studio system (3:32), Mack Sennett (4:13), Charlie Chaplin (4:30), censorship (6:38), MPPDA and the Hays Code ratings system (7:20)
The introduction of sound
Here we get into the ‘talkies.’ CrashCourse covers the issues that delayed sound in film (1:15), sound-on-film (2:45), attempts to create a visual representation of sound (2:50), Phonofilms (3:52), Hollywood resistance to sound-on-film (4:19), the Vitaphone (4:22), Don Juan (5:00), casualties of the transition to sound (5:46), Vitaphone broad adoption (6:25), The Jazz Singer (6:30), the advent of genres (7:28), the early demise of the woman editor (8:10)
The Golden Age of Hollywood
Here we look at: the effects of the great depression on Hollywood (0:58), the five studio system (1:49), MGM (1:59), Paramount (2:27), WB (2:39), 20th Century (2:49), RKO (3:05), antitrust supreme court case against the studios (3:28), advent of color (4:01), Technicolor (5:17), aspect ration standardization (6:40), anamorphic Cinemascope (7:43),.
The rise of Independent Cinema
Covered here: summary of classical Hollywood cinema, Italian Neo-Realism (1:33), Rome: Open City (2:02), French New Wave (2:37), rise of independent filmmaking globally (5:06), independent film movement in America (5:28), Bonnie and Clyde (6:15), Easy Rider (6:53), New Hollywood Cinema (7:40), the rise of the summer blockbuster (8:12), multinational corporate dominance of studio decision-making (8:35), the 1990’s (9:15),
The Age of Home Video
A look at the explosive disruption of the home video era. Covered topics: 8mm home movies (0:41), the advent of home video (1:42), Betamax (1:48), interlacing (2:00), VHX (2:44), VHS victory (2:55), video rentals (3:24), direct-to-video (3:54), laser disc (4:33), DVD (4:58), home library purchasing (5:04), analog vs digital (5:29), DVD extras (6:10), Blu-ray et al (6:28), SD, HD, UHD (6:36), HD-DVD (7:55), 4K-UHD Disc (8:25), streaming services (8:35).
While Hollywood and movie making are often considered synonymous, sophisticated filmmaking developed across the globe during the 20th century. The following two videos cover filmmaking across the globe. Topics covered: Japan and its birth during wartime (0:42), Yasujiro Ozu (1:17), his use of empty space (2:00), Ishiro Honda (2:38) with his 1954 classic Godzilla (2:52), American post-war censorship (3:16), Akira Kurosawa (3:35), Rashomon (3:43), influence on George Lucas (4:25), mainland China (4:47), Communist oversight by Minister of Culture (5:07), relaxation of censorship to allow non-propaganda films (5:19), cultural revolution of 1966 (5:31), Zhang Yimou (6:00), Hong Kong (6:35), Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan (6:49), John Woo (6:55), Wong Kar-Wai (7:00), India (7:20), introduction of sound and language problems (7:33), Bollywood (7:37), Indian star system (8:04), Ramesh Sippy & Sholay (8:15), Satyajit Ray (8:30), the Bicycle Thieves (8:42),
World Cinema Part II
The journey across the globe continues, with Africa (0:45), Egypt (0:53), military oversight (1:08), Youssef Chahine (1:35), Asmaa El-Bakry (2:16), Algeria(2:35), Senegal (3:25), other African filmmaking nations (4:26), Latin America (4:45), Cuba (4:55), government run National film Institute (5:00), Brazil (6:10), Iran (7:35),
Experimental and Documentary Films
CrashCourse diverges from narrative cinema to take a look at the history of experimental and documentary filmmaking. Coverage includes Cinèma Pur (2:09), Surrealism (2:59), Salvador Dali (3:17), Maya Deren (3:36), Stan Brakhage (4:15), Guy Maddin (4:29), George Lucas (4:46), David Lynch (5:50), introduction to documentaries (5:15), Nanook of the North (5:48), origination of the term (6:01), news reels (6:20), Cinema Verité (6:48), Direct Cinema (7:03), Ken Burns (7:39), mockumentaries (7:56), cinematic techniques in documentaries (8:28),