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The Late Silent Era in the United States. Lecture 8. Key Terms. Story (content; the “what?”) vs. narrative discourse (form; the “how?) Narrative discourse (see Gunning and Genette ) Three interrelated elements (the perspective of the filmmaker) Pro-filmic (before shooting)

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The late silent era in the united states

The Late Silent Era in the United States

Lecture 8

Key terms
Key Terms

  • Story (content; the “what?”) vs. narrative discourse (form; the “how?)

  • Narrative discourse (see Gunning and Genette)

    • Three interrelated elements (the perspective of the filmmaker)

    • Pro-filmic (before shooting)

      • Actors, casting, lighting, set design, locations, props, etc.

    • Enframed image (during shooting)

      • Camera angle, camera distance, camera height, photo stock (composition, etc.)

    • Process of editing (after shooting)

      • Shot length, shot juxtaposition and order

    • Three effects of narrative discourse (perspective of the spectator/reader)

    • Tense—temporal relations b/t the story and the narrative discourse

      • Order—succession of events

      • Duration—compression or extension of events

      • Frequency—retellings of the same event

    • Mood (point of view, perspective)—Does it take the perspective of a certain character or retain an objective distance from the events depicted?

    • Voice–the trace of a storyteller; the ways the storyteller asserts his/her presence (Who is narrating and from where?)

Thematic threads modernity
Thematic Threads: Modernity

Urbanization—the city

  • 1880, population New York City: 1,206,299

    • Detroit #18

  • 1890, population New York City: 1,515,301

  • 1900, population New York City: 3,437,202

  • 1910, population New York City: 4,766,883

  • 1920, population New York City: 5,620,048

    • Detroit #4

  • 1930, population New York City: 6,930,446

    (from Bureau of the Census)

    Industrialization—the factory, division of labor, scientific management

  • Taylorism

  • Fordism

    Transportation technology—the train (1820s), the car (Ford Model T, 1908), the airplane (1901)

    Modernization—the skyscraper, the bridge

  • First skyscraper: 1891, St. Louis, Missouri—Wainwright Building

  • Brooklyn Bridge: 1883

    Mass entertainment

  • Cinema: 1890s

  • Amusement Parks (e.g. Coney Island)

    Corporate Advertising (late 19th century)

Early films
Early Films

  • Edison and American Mutoscope and Biograph Company actualities:

    • Arrival of emigrants [i.e. immigrants], Ellis Island /2At the foot of the Flatiron /3Automobile parade /4Bargain day, 14th Street, New York /5Beginning of a skyscraper /6Buffalo Bill's wild west parade /7Delivering newspapers /8Departure of Peary [and the] "Roosevelt" from New York /9Elevated railroad, New York /10Emigrants [i.e. immigrants] landing at Ellis Island /11Excavating for a New York foundation /12[Fireboat "New Yorker" in action--excerpts] /13Funeral of Hiram Cronk /14Interior N.Y. subway, 14th St. to 42nd St. /15Lower Broadway /16Move on /N.Y. Fire Department returning /18New York City "ghetto" fish market /19New York City dumping wharf /20New York Harbor Police boat Patrol capturing pirates /21New York police parade, June 1st, 1899 /22Opening of new East River bridge, New York /23Opening the Williamsburg Bridge /24Panorama from the tower of Brooklyn Bridge /25Panorama from Times Building, New York /26Panorama of Blackwell's Island, N.Y. /27Panorama of Flatiron Building /28Panorama of Riker's Island, N.Y. /29Panorama water front and Brooklyn Bridge from East River /30Parade of "exempt" firemen /31Parade of horses on Speedway /32Pennsylvania Tunnel excavation /33A perilous proceeding /34Pilot boats in New York harbor /35Skating on lake, Central Park /36The skyscrapers of New York /37Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River /38Sleighing scene /39Sorting refuse at incinerating plant, New York City /40Star Theatre /41Statue of Liberty /42A street Arab /43What happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City /44White Wings on review /

  • Coney Island

    • Rube and Mandy at Coney Island, Edison, 1903

    • Coney Island, Luna Park at Night, Edison, 1903:

  • Skyscrapers

    • Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River, 1903

The late silent era in the united states

From The Birth of a Nation

The crowd ending
The Crowd Ending

The mass ornament frame enlargements from the crowd
The Mass OrnamentFrame enlargements from The Crowd

The late silent era in the united states

The Mass Ornament

(Siegfried Kracauer, 1927)

“The position that an epoch occupies in the historical process can be determined more strikingly from an analysis of its inconspicuous surface-level expressions than from the epoch’s judgments about itself… In the domain of body culture, which also covers the illustrated newspapers, tastes have been quietly changing. The process began with the Tiller Girls. These products of American distraction factories are no longer individual girls, but indissoluable girl clusters whose movements are demonstrations of mathematics. As they condense into figures in the revues, performances of the same geometric precision are taking place in what is always the same packed stadium…. One need only glance at the screen to learn that the ornaments are composed of thousands of bodies in bathing suits. The regularity their patterns is cheered by the masses, themselves arranged by the stands in tier upon ordered tier….” (78)

On the mass ornament kracauer
On the “mass ornament” (Kracauer)

The structure of the mass ornament reflects that of the entire contemporary situation…Like the mass ornament, the capitalist production process is an end in itself… Everyone does his or her task on the conveyor belt, performing a partial function without grasping the totality. Like the pattern in the stadium, the organization stands above the masses, a monstrous figure whose creator withdraws it from the eyes of its bearers, and barely even observes it himself.—It is conceived according to rational principles which the Taylor system merely pushes to their ultimate conclusion. The hands in the factory correspond to the legs of the Tiller Girls. Going beyond manual capacities, psychotechnical aptitude tests attempt to calculate dispositions of the soul as well. The mass ornament is the aesthetic reflex of the rationality to which the prevailing economic system aspires.” (79)