As a group raised in the 21st century, we have grown accustomed to a certain type of film. Now colour, surround sound, visual effects, CGI, and big-budget blockbusters are available for teenagers to view on all kinds of modern technology. Studying film history allows us to understand the path that film took as it grew into what it is today, as well as allowing us to discover an appreciation and understanding of how important 19th and 20th century film was to the social, political and cultural zeitgeist as well as to people as individuals.
A challenge posed to us as film historians is the difficulty in separating what we know from film today as well as hindsight that the filmmakers of the 19th and 20th century did not possess from making a view of the films we watch in our screenings as an isolated analysis.
What surprised us from the material we have seen so far is the clear transformation of film and filmmaking over the years since its creation in 1895. For example, the way that narrative developed and film length increased, as well as shots became more complex (such as a comparison between the single shot ‘L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat’ by the Lumiere Brothers in 1896, and Lois Webster’s ‘Suspense’). Webster’s film also surprised us with the acknowledgement of the links between film made then and the films we see today. One example of this is when the homeless man in ‘Suspense’ punches through the door, actions like this have been repeated to create suspense and scares in more recent films such as Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. Furthermore, this concept of a home invasion movie has been repeated across different genres and in all decades, such as the family film ‘Home Alone’ and the 2013 horror ‘The Purge’.
To get the most out of studying this module we believe that we should make use of all of the resources we have been given, as well as discovering more information independently. In doing so, we will be able to create a more critical and in depth analysis of the films and eras we study. Furthermore, we should try to see this from the perspective of an audience of the periods we are studying, as a filmmaker of that time will not have had the hindsight that we possess. Finally, we should remember to study the film in the context of the period it was created in, remembering that the environment of the time will have had an effect on the film’s meaning (such as Ingeborg Holm, 1913, and its criticism of the Swedish welfare state of the early 1900’s).