It’s on December 28 1895 that the first public screening took place. The Lumière brothers, with the cinematograph, were the presenters. The first movies were just small, 60-second animated views. It was in 1896 that the Lumière brothers went on tour to show their invention. Throughout this trip, the inventors concede some licenses to operate the device. But until 1903, cinema remains a simple attraction.
It was in 1902 that the cinema knew its first real success film, when Georges Méliès directed Le Voyage dans la lune. Then in 1906 Charles Tait directed the first feature film in the history of cinema: The Story of the Kelly Gang.
In 1908, cinema was finally recognized as an art (the seventh art). 1910 sees the comic cinema arrive with the actor Max Linder. He creates burlesque which becomes the first cinematographic genre. Then, between 1908 and 1913, the language of cinema developed thanks in large part to D.W. Griffith. In 1917, Russian filmmakers, led by Vertov and Eisenstein, created a new cinematographic grammar by perfecting the art of editing. In 1919, it is the beginning of a new genre in Germany: expressionism. It is Robert Weine who invents the genre with Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet. This genre portrays a dark and scary vision of the world and atmospheres. Meanwhile, in France, born in 1916, the avant-garde movement, also known as Impressionism. This movement will expand around 1921 and will continue until the late 1920s. Finally, the 1920s also see the American burlesque take its place in the cinematographic genres and become the “slapstick”. It is Chaplin who will be the great figure of it.
Then, in 1927 came the first talking film: The Jazz Singer. The transition from silent film to talking cinema was not easy. Many of the great seventh art stars have seen their star fade, not being able to adapt.
It is finally in the 1930s that silent cinema will eventually die.
With the arrival of the talking cinema, comes also a new genre. It was in France, at the beginning of the 1930s, that poetic realism developed. This era is also known as the golden age of French cinema. This is the great time of Jean Renoir and Jean Gabin. It is also at this moment that the American distribution network begins to grow, to quietly become what it is today. The 1940s (following the Second World War) saw the birth of Italian neo-realism. In fact, it was Visconti who made the first film of this movement, in 1942 (Ossessione). It’s a rich era for Italian cinema, with directors like De Sica and Rossellini. Then, in the early 1950s, a group of French directors created the cinema of the new wave. This cinema that breaks with tradition will make a lot of waves. We must mention Les 400 coups and Breathless, which are the two films most often cited for this period. The 1960s and 1970s saw a more engaged cinema take center stage. It is also at this moment that we can locate the beginning of the various national cinemas.
Despite the current cinematic diversity, many people believe that Hollywood cinema is the only valid cinema. But there are always good films produced every year from around the world: auteur films, independent films and films from national cinemas in different countries.
It is this cinema that interests us.