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Created by Lori Runkle. Timeline, Genre, and Early Days. History of American Cinema . Tim Dirks: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tdirks Filmsite : http://www.filmsite.org/milestonespre1900s.html. Explore the Timeline: Early Days of Film.

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Timeline, Genre, and Early Days

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explore the timeline early days of film

Tim Dirks: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tdirks

Filmsite: http://www.filmsite.org/milestonespre1900s.html

Explore the Timeline:Early Days of Film

Take time to explore this film timeline link at the site: Filmsite Timeline of Cinema Milestones

This Filmsite was created in May 1996. It came under the umbrella of American Movie Classics (AMC), owned by Rainbow Media Holdings in September 2008.

Facts & Dates: The early days of film (Edison’s work, et cetera) 1878: Edison’s Speaking Phonograph Company

Peep Shows & The “Firsts” on film pre-1900 (The Silent Clowns)

The Kiss (Romance), Horror, and Animation Genres


Thomas Edison poses for an advertisement for the phonograph.


PHOTO CREDIT: "Phonograph Catalog/Advertisement: 'I want a phonograph in every home...'." Edison Manufacturing Co. Inventing Entertainment: The Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies, Library of Congress.

Sound Recordings:




classifying film by genre
Classifying Film by Genre

What is a genre of film? Literature? Scholars dispute the definitions and classifications of genres and sub-genres of stories.

Genre and sub-genre system used by screenwriters (handout) from Robert McKee’s book Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, 1997: Harper-Collins

For each genre, there is a different set of criteria we use to view and critically think about the film.

Partner Activity: Classify a film into its genre and explain why it is considered a quality film in that genre.

view early films 2 genres


View Early Films: 2 Genres

1896 - The Kiss (aka The May Irwin Kiss) was the first film made of a couple kissing in cinematic history. May Irwin and John Rice re-enacted a lingering kiss for Thomas Edison's film camera in this 20-second long short, from their 1895 Broadway stage play The Widow Jones. It became the most popular film produced that year by Edison's film company, but was also notorious as the first film to be criticized as scandalous and brought demands for censorship.

Romance: The Kiss

view early films 2 genres1


Manoir du Diable (1896) YouTube Link

View Early Films: 2 Genres

1896 - The roots of horror films (and vampire films in particular) may be traced back to French film-maker Georges Méliès' two-minute short film Le Manoir du Diable (1896) (aka Manor/House of the Devil, or The Devil's Castle), although it was meant to be an amusing, entertaining film.

Horror: Méliès was a professional magician, known for his illusion and tricks on film. Tricks in the films were devoid of plot. (The Silent Clowns)


Journal: Writing Activity

Imagine your are an early filmmaker in the late 1800s. You are making a film two minutes in length. What genre would you choose? Summarize the short film you plan to make in your journal. Remember, this is groundbreaking work. Think carefully about your production. Why did you choose this genre/content?