A Brief History of Cinema & Movies


One of the 19th Century’s greatest achievements is that for more than a hundred years, cinematography has developed into an incredibly successful industry which through different genres of movies, brings pleasure to billions of people around the world.

The Beginning

While it has to be said that cinema was not invented by one person in particular, in the US, back in 1891, the Edison Company was successful in demonstrating a Kinetoscope prototype. This empowered viewers to watch moving pictures, one person at a time. Luckily, technology these days, allows us to view our favourite films on a refurbished apple on our mobile phones. Moving on a few years, in late 1895, the Lumière brothers showed projected moving pictures in a Parisian cinema.

Initially, the films only lasted several minutes, but they were a great attraction at music halls, fairgrounds and various other venues, where a room could be darkened for a screen and a projector. The subject matter included newsworthy events, short comedies, scenes of foreign lands, and local areas and activities. All the films had accompanying music or lectures, as well as participation by the audience. And while it has to be said that the films did not have synchronised dialogue, they were not the ‘silent’ films, which are so often referred to.

How the Film Industry Took Off

A few national film industries had been set up prior to 1914, with Scandinavia, Russia and Europe, enjoying the same importance as the US. At this time, the films lasted for longer, and the narrative/storytelling was the dominant feature.

Gradually, the increasingly keen audience became bigger and bigger, and this meant that the film industry was happy to invest more funds to show the films, and organise distribution and production. And so to that end, more cinemas were constructed, and enormous studios such as those in Hollywood were born.

The European film industry was extremely limited in its production, due to the horrors of the First World War. And as a result, the US film industry rose to top position globally. Cinema’s first thirty years were strongly influenced by the consolidation and growth of refined technology, the narrative form, and an industrial base.

Excitement grew when colour hit the cinema screens. This was made possible by doctoring black and white movie reels using stencilling, toning and tinting. In fact, in 1906, colour separation principles were utilised to generate what were regarded as ‘natural colour’ moving images.

Right Now

These days, technology has revolutionised these techniques and going to the cinema, whether it is Cineworld, the Odeon, or other famous chains, is quite an experience with 3D and IMAX screens, not to mention those which have special effects felt by the audience!