4.    In what ways was Les Quatre Cents Coups / The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959) a representative film of the French New Wave?

The period of the French New Wave, 1959-1963 (Annette Kuhn: 202), centred on innovation and experimentation in the filmmaking business, in a time when audience numbers declined because of new leisure opportunities and when sexual liberation came with a change in morality. Government subsidiaries and new talent support encouraged an industrial change. The prize winning The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959) represents the characteristics of this European art cinema in particular which will be further explored in this essay (James Russel: New Waves).

3.    How did the outbreak of World War II affect the content of British film in the early 1940s?

After the Hollywood influenced period in the 1930s (Newi.ac.uk) with films lacking political and social critique and a dominant working-class theme (Jill Nelmes: 314), British cinema changed with the beginning of World War II as the isolated Britain feared invasion (Robert Murphy) and political awareness became a major issue. Following a short closing of cinemas, suspecting raids at the outbreak of the war (British Film Resource: World War II), a new inward-look appeared, using the crisis to abandon old divisions and grudges (Jill Nelmes: 314-315).

Few victories first resulted in rare ideas, but early the need for escapism - with cinema as the biggest entertainment sector (James Chapman: 196) - nurtured absurd comedies and comedy-thrillers of the “phoney-war” period (Robert Murphy). In 1939-40, optimistic films such as Gasbags (Walter Forde and Marcel Varnel, 1940) used humour to make times endurable, offering a way to switch-off (Robert Murphy).

2.    How did the adoption of synchronised sound in the late 1920s transform cinema as a visual medium, and as an institution.

Since the beginning of cinema, experiments were made with sound, leading to Harold Arnold’s electrical recording technology that Western Electrics and Bell Labs used for sound-on-disc inventions, demonstrating the first talking picture in Yale in 1922 The Audion. Warner Bros., the only interested studio, for the film economy went well and had no needs, bought the Vitascope system and with Western Electric, Bell Labs and their Vitaphone Corporation made the first successful commercial sound-effect film Don Juan (Alan Crosland) in 1926 (Sandiego.edu).

After further big successes like the first spoken language film, The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927), elevating Warner Bros. to a major studio, the other big studios, like MGM and Paramount, adopted sound technologies, allying with Western Electronics (James Chapman: 90-92), who combined the Fox Film Corporation’s sound-on-film, Movietone, with their amplification system in 1931 (Virginia.edu). This photoelectric cell became standard, lasting longer than the 24-play-discs and being more synchronous (Sandiego.edu).

1.    Who could be said to have ‘invented’ cinema, and how did their device improve upon other emergent film technologies?

At the end of the nineteenth century, many inventors were fascinated with the moving picture. While the Zoetrope and the Praxinoscope set the principles by giving “the impression of movement”, Etienne-Jules Marey and Augustin-Louis Le Prince presented machines to only photograph, not project, moving images (James Chapman: 53). George Eastman perfected and standardized celluloid film rolls by 1890, essential for filming and projecting, but still others lead the way to the spectacle of cinema (Filmreference).

 In 1891, the American Thomas Edison (1847-1931) and his assistant W.K.L. Dickson invented the Kinetoscope viewing box and shortly after the heavy Kinetograph camera, enabling one person peepshows of less than thirty seconds. Two of their attributes became standard in the following years: a “stop-motion device to regulate intermittent motion of film strip” and two-rowed holes in the film to pull synchronous and effectively through the machine (Filmreference). Commercial use launched in 1894, using the first film studio, the Black Maria, in West Orange, New Jersey; consequently, various Kinetoscope parlours emerged in the USA and Europe, but they lacked the cinema-feature of collective viewing (James Chapman: 53).

The following short essays are part of my Film Studies degree and might be interesting to anyone, who wants to know more about the History of film.

The entries use references from the following list, so further reading should be fairly easy. Concerning any questions or suggestions, I would be happy to answer on comments.

Did you ever think about seeing lists as art, as poetry, as a piece of writing that can have a greater meaning?
Japanese Sei Shonagon definitely sees that in list. In The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon she uses 164 lists, showing contrahents and expressing whatever she wanted to. For her, as a writer one can include whatever one wants. Good to know!

Titles of her lists include: Things that cannot be compared, Things that lost their power, People who seem to suffer, Things that gain by being painted, Things that loose by being painted...

Now I wrote some on my own:

Watching two White Dogs

There he flits through oiled daylight,
across black hills, deep down raw paths.
He roams his veil of linen cloth,
then stops, surveys to sniff
her out.

His eyes dropped - striving down towards
where once his purple collared wife
had rested, waiting foolishly,
in hope their paint will bleed.

Sunset haunts her traveller,
his piercing rips exert themselves
and make his paws proceed.

His hanging ears are not deceived!
The husband strands,
I see him grieve.
They hang apart:
express their calm

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