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chapter 7

chapter 7 - Dating back to the late 1800s American films...

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1 ± Dating back to the late 1800s, American films have had a substantial social and cultural impact on society. Blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, E.T., Jurassic Park, Titanic, Lord of the Rings , and Spider-Man represent what Hollywood has become—America’s storyteller. ± At their best, they tell communal stories that evoke and symbolize our most enduring values and our secret desires. The most popular films often make the world seem clearer, more manageable, and more understandable. The Top 10 Box-Office Champions, 2007 ± Over and above their immense economic impact (see Table 7.1 ), movies have always worked on several social and cultural levels. While they distract us from our daily struggles, at the same time they encourage us to take part in rethinking contemporary ideas. We continue to be attracted to the stories that movies tell. 373 Spider-Man 2 (2004) 10 377 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 9 380 Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005) 8 408 Spider-Man (2002) 7 421 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) 6 431 Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) 5 435 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 4 437 Shrek 2 (2004) 3 461 Star Wars (1977) 2 $601 Titanic (1997) 1 Domestic Gross** (mil ions)
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2 Early Technology and the Evolution of Movies ± The Development of Film ± Solving the puzzle of making a picture move depended both on advances in photography and on the development of a flexible film stock to replace the heavy metal-and-glass plates used to make individual pictures in the 1800s. In 1889, an American minister, Hannibal Goodwin, developed a transparent and pliable film—called celluloid —that could hold a coating, or film, of chemicals sensitive to light. ± kinetoscope: an early film projection system that served as a kind of peep show in which viewers looked through a hole and saw images moving on a tiny plate. ± vitascope: a large-screen movie projection system developed by Thomas Edison. The Power of Stories in the Silent Era ± The shift from early development to the mass medium stage came with the introduction of narrative films : movies that tell stories. Once audiences understood the illusion of moving images, they quickly tired of waves breaking on beaches or vaudeville acts recorded by immobile cameras. To become a mass medium, the early silent films had to offer what books achieved: the suspension of disbelief. They had to create narrative worlds that engaged an audience’s imagination. The Arrival of Nickelodeons ± According to media historian Douglas Gomery, these small and uncomfortable makeshift theaters were often converted cigar stores, pawnshops, or restaurants redecorated to mimic vaudeville theaters: “In front, large, hand-painted posters announced the movies for the day. ± Inside, the screening of news, documentary,
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chapter 7 - Dating back to the late 1800s American films...

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