From Life to Art: Thomas Edison and the Development of Cinema

Creators
Chantalle Uzan, Sebastian Moya, Jenny Ferretti, and Leah Castaldi

Transcript
Thomas Alva Edison is credited as one of the greatest inventors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

One of his most well known inventions is the moving picture we take for granted.

Early on in the history of film, Edison made his mark.

By the end of the nineteenth century he had already developed a machine to view photographs in rapid succession.

Patented in 1893, the machine called Apparatus for Exhibiting Photographs of Moving Objects, was created to provide an efficient way for still photographic images to pass by the eye of the viewer in order to give the illusion of movement.

This is also the year construction of an Edison film studio, nicknamed the Black Maria, was completed. This would be where the earliest Edison motion pictures are filmed.

Within a year of gaining a patent for his apparatus, Edison established the Edison Manufacturing Company in West Orange, New Jersey.

In 1894, Edison submitted applications to the U.S. Patent Office for the kinetopgraph, an early motion picture camera, and the kinetoscope, and early motion picture exhibition device. Manufacturing kinetoscopes for home use would come just a few short years later.

After this break through, the company established Edison Studios to develop and produce films.

The first studio was opened in West Organge in 1892. Less than ten years later, the Edison Studio opened another location in Manhattan on 21st Street. In 1908, the company would open a studio in the Bronx.

The film industry had begun and New York was at the forefront of it all. Kinetoscope viewing parlors began opening in 1894 and films were being exhibited commercially as sources of entertainment.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States found itself immersed in the Spanish American War.

The technological advancements of the Edison Manufacturing Company brought the war to the public. Edison sent cameramen down to Cuba to bring back some of the first documentaries ever made.

This was the first time in history when the American people were able to view war through moving images.

Back in America, Edison hired Edwin S. Porter to work within the Edison Manufacturing Company, and in 1903 he created and directed one of the most pivotal films in history.

The Great Train Robbery was not only the first commercially successful film of the twentieth century, it is easily the most recognizable Edison Studios film.

Throughout the life span of the Edison Manufacturing Company, they developed nearly twelve hundred films; of which only 54 were considered to be feature length, the rest were short films that were no longer than a few minutes each.

By 1918, Edison’s motion picture studio had closed and moving image production had begun its move across the country to Hollywood.

For nearly twenty years, Thomas Edison and his company dominated moving image creation.

Though his hold on moving images did not last very long, Edison is considered one of the founding fathers of early cinema.

Bibliography and credits
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