Reading Overview:  Week One


Movie-Made America, Chapts. 1-4


1.  The Birth of a Mass Medium

     a.  urbanization:  importance?

     b.  technological pre-history:  Marey, Edison

     c.  early distribution and exhibition


2.  Nickel Madness

     a.  storefront theaters:  social implications?

     b.  film content

     c.  Great Train Robbery

     d.  efforts at social control of motion pictures


3.  Edison’s Trust—on what basis did Edison attempt to take control of the film industry?  Why did he initially succeed?  Why, ultimately, did the Trust fail?


4.  D. W. Griffith and the Forging of Motion Picture Art

     a.  art vs. entertainment  --why is the distinction important here?

     b.  continuity and the development of Griffith’s storytelling techniques:  camera distance; cross-cutting; shorter takes; shots (vs. scenes)

     c.  dramatic lighting and rhythm; overall film length

     d.  what was the significance of Birth of a Nation? 



Schatz, “Family Melodrama” (preview)


Defining characteristics:


p. 222:  “a virtuous individual […] victimized by repressive and inequitable social circumstances, particularly those involving marriage, occupation, and the nuclear family.”


“[…] the melodrama traces the ultimate resignation of the principals to the strictures of social and familial tradition.”