Cinema Through the Ages – Vaasvi Sethia

Everyone’s been to the movies. Whether it’s for a first date or to hang with the crew, the movie theatre is always a fun time. Sure, the popcorn is overpriced, the sodas are weirdly large, and there’s always some idiot who forgets to silence his phone. Even with the pitfalls, there’s nothing quite like seeing a movie on the big screen.

Movies haven’t always been like the modern experience. In fact, you would hardly recognize the movies if you went back in time from when they first started showing films.

 

It all started with displaying odes and tales of old through mere puppets behind a screen. Following it were the folklores of various countries projected by the “magic lantern”, which came to being in Nordic countries first, and projected pictures painted on glass to a screen. This lantern was the stepping stone to current projectors.

The concept of “persistence of vision” became widespread shortly afterwards. This just means that the eye takes a certain amount of time to see, so if images flash in front of our eyes before we have the chance to properly see them, it appears as though they are in motion.

 

Along with this development came along the Silent Era of Cinema, when experimentation and development was at its peak. Boundaries were pushed in the entertainment sector and the people saw something never seen before. The Silent Era got its name due to the lack of sound in the films, along with being dichromatic in colour, that is, black and white, one signifying the presence of all hues, and one of null.

A majority of the films were filmed on as little as a single reel of tape (averaging from a few minutes to just over an hour). Till that period, films were either about everyday life or stories of supernatural places.

 

Along came the Germans and did something brand new with the introduction of the box office breaking genre “horror.”  They came up with original indoor film sets and they mastered lighting like no one else had. They realised that the way a scene is lit can drastically effect how it makes people feel, so they played around with soft and harsh lighting to get their desired effect. Films shot in Technicolor used a three-strip camera that captured the scene in cyan, magenta and yellow. When the strips were put together it created this prodigious effect.

 

As technology advanced, computers were being used to create elements that didn’t exist in the real world, allowing for a new kind of film: science fiction. Taking inspiration from one another and learning from each other’s mistakes, the various genres that can be seen today came into play years ago. Eastman Kodak launched Eastmancolor in 1950 that offered cost-effective solutions and great picture quality to the movies of the mid 1900’s. Shortly afterwards Eastman was ousted by Fujicolor, and eventually colour films were replaced by digital cinematography. If turned a blind eye to, the difference between the way movies are made and how they’re approached is exclusively different now than it was decades ago.

 

The evolution of cinema has been drastic, and it’s wonderful to see how it has changed over the years. The black and white movies have their own shine while the luxury experienced these days is also bliss. Cinema is indeed a major part of all our lives and it’s one of our main sources of entertainment. Imagining our lives without cinema will just end up being like another horror movie. So here’s to cinema, with love!!

 

-Vaasvi Sethia, Arya Vidya Mandir, Bandra (West)

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