Silent film

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For the Mel Brooks film, see Silent Movie. Silent film_sentence_0

For the band, see A Silent Film. Silent film_sentence_1

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). Silent film_sentence_2

In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. Silent film_sentence_3

The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. Silent film_sentence_4

The term "silent film" is something of a misnomer, as these films were almost always accompanied by live sounds. Silent film_sentence_5

During the silent era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Silent film_sentence_6

Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. Silent film_sentence_7

Sometimes a person would even narrate the intertitle cards for the audience. Silent film_sentence_8

Though at the time the technology to synchronize sound with the video did not exist, music was seen as an essential part of the viewing experience. Silent film_sentence_9

The term is also frequently used to describe sound-era films that have a recorded music-only soundtrack without dialogue, such as City Lights and The Artist. Silent film_sentence_10

The term silent film is a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something. Silent film_sentence_11

Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies", "sound films", or "talking pictures". Silent film_sentence_12

Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, music and sound effects. Silent film_sentence_13

Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film used in that era was extremely unstable and flammable. Silent film_sentence_14

Additionally, many films were deliberately destroyed because they had negligible continuing financial value in this era. Silent film_sentence_15

It has often been claimed that around 75 percent of silent films produced in the US have been lost, though these estimates may be inaccurate due to a lack of numerical data. Silent film_sentence_16

Elements and beginnings (1894–1936) Silent film_section_0

Further information: History of film Silent film_sentence_17

The earliest precursors to film began with image projection through the use of a device known as the magic lantern, which utilized a glass lens, a shutter, and a persistent light source (such as a powerful lantern) to project images from glass slides onto a wall. Silent film_sentence_18

These slides were originally hand-painted, but, after the advent of photography in the 19th century, still photographs were sometimes used. Silent film_sentence_19

Thus the invention of a practical photography apparatus preceded cinema by only fifty years. Silent film_sentence_20

The next significant step toward the invention of cinema was the development of an understanding of image movement. Silent film_sentence_21

Simulations of movement date as far back as to 1828—only four years after Paul Roget discovered the phenomenon he called "Persistence of Vision". Silent film_sentence_22

Roget showed that when a series of still images is shown at a considerable speed in front of a viewer's eye, the images merge into one registered image that appears to show movement. Silent film_sentence_23

This is an optical illusion, since the image is not actually moving. Silent film_sentence_24

This experience was further demonstrated through Roget's introduction of the thaumatrope, a device that spun at a fairly high speed a disk with an image on its surface. Silent film_sentence_25

The invention of film allowed for true motion pictures rather than optical illusions. Silent film_sentence_26

The film, which consisted of flexible and transparent celluloid, could record split second pictures. Silent film_sentence_27

Developed by Étienne-Jules Marey, he was one of the first to experiment with film. Silent film_sentence_28

In 1882, Marey developed a camera that could take 12 photographs per second (superimposed into one image) of animals or humans in motion. Silent film_sentence_29

The three features necessary for motion pictures to work were "a camera with sufficiently high shutter speed, a filmstrip capable of taking multiple exposures swiftly, and means of projecting the developed images on a screen". Silent film_sentence_30

The first projected proto-movie was made by Eadweard Muybridge between 1877 and 1880. Silent film_sentence_31

Muybridge set up a row of cameras along a racetrack and timed image exposures to capture the many stages of a horse's gallop. Silent film_sentence_32

The oldest surviving film (of the genre called "pictorial realism") was created by Louis Le Prince in 1888. Silent film_sentence_33

It was a two-second film of people walking in "Oakwood streets" garden, titled Roundhay Garden Scene. Silent film_sentence_34

The development of American inventor Thomas Edison's Kinetograph, a photographic device that captured sequential images, and his Kinetoscope, a device for viewing those images, allowed for the creation and exhibition of short films. Silent film_sentence_35

Edison also made a business of selling Kinetograph and Kinetoscope equipment, which laid the foundation for widespread film production. Silent film_sentence_36

Due to Edison's lack of securing an international patent on his film inventions, similar devices were "invented" around the world. Silent film_sentence_37

In France, for example, Auguste and Louis Lumière created the Cinématographe, which proved to be a more portable and practical device than both of Edison's as it combined a camera, film processor, and projector in one unit. Silent film_sentence_38

In contrast to Edison's "peepshow"-style kinetoscope, which only one person could watch through a viewer, the cinematograph allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple people. Silent film_sentence_39

Their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered the first true motion picture. Silent film_sentence_40

The invention of celluloid film, which was strong and flexible, greatly facilitated the making of motion pictures (although the celluloid was highly flammable and decayed quickly). Silent film_sentence_41

This film was 35 mm wide and was pulled using four sprocket holes, which became the industry standard (see 35 mm film). Silent film_sentence_42

This doomed the cinematograph, which only worked with film with a single sprocket hole. Silent film_sentence_43

Silent film era Silent film_section_1

The work of Muybridge, Marey, and Le Prince laid the foundation for future development of motion picture cameras, projectors and transparent celluloid film, which lead to the development of cinema as we know it today. Silent film_sentence_44

American inventor George Eastman, who had first manufactured photographic dry plates in 1878, made headway on a stable type of celluloid film in 1888. Silent film_sentence_45

The art of motion pictures grew into full maturity in the "silent era" (1894 in film1929 in film). Silent film_sentence_46

The height of the silent era (from the early 1910s in film to the late 1920s) was a particularly fruitful period, full of artistic innovation. Silent film_sentence_47

The film movements of Classical Hollywood as well as French Impressionism, German Expressionism, and Soviet Montage began in this period. Silent film_sentence_48

Silent filmmakers pioneered the art form to the extent that virtually every style and genre of film-making of the 20th and 21st centuries has its artistic roots in the silent era. Silent film_sentence_49

The silent era was also a pioneering one from a technical point of view. Silent film_sentence_50

Three-point lighting, the close-up, long shot, panning, and continuity editing all became prevalent long before silent films were replaced by "talking pictures" or "talkies" in the late 1920s. Silent film_sentence_51

Some scholars claim that the artistic quality of cinema decreased for several years, during the early 1930s, until film directors, actors, and production staff adapted fully to the new "talkies" around the mid 1930s. Silent film_sentence_52

The visual quality of silent movies—especially those produced in the 1920s—was often high, but there remains a widely held misconception that these films were primitive, or are barely watchable by modern standards. Silent film_sentence_53

This misconception comes from the general public's unfamiliarity with the medium, as well as from carelessness on the part of the industry. Silent film_sentence_54

Most silent films are poorly preserved, leading to their deterioration, and well-preserved films are often played back at the wrong speed or suffer from censorship cuts and missing frames and scenes, giving the appearance of poor editing. Silent film_sentence_55

Many silent films exist only in second- or third-generation copies, often made from already damaged and neglected film stock. Silent film_sentence_56

Another widely held misconception is that silent films lacked color. Silent film_sentence_57

In fact, color was far more prevalent in silent films than in the first few decades of sound films. Silent film_sentence_58

By the early 1920s, 80 per cent of movies could be seen in some sort of color, usually in the form of film tinting or toning or even hand coloring, but also with fairly natural two-color processes such as Kinemacolor and Technicolor. Silent film_sentence_59

Traditional colorization processes ceased with the adoption of sound-on-film technology. Silent film_sentence_60

Traditional film colorization, all of which involved the use of dyes in some form, interfered with the high resolution required for built-in recorded sound, and were therefore abandoned. Silent film_sentence_61

The innovative three-strip technicolor process introduced in the mid-30s was costly and fraught with limitations, and color would not have the same prevalence in film as it did in the silents for nearly four decades. Silent film_sentence_62

Intertitles Silent film_section_2

As motion pictures gradually increased in running time, a replacement was needed for the in-house interpreter who would explain parts of the film to the audience. Silent film_sentence_63

Because silent films had no synchronized sound for dialogue, onscreen intertitles were used to narrate story points, present key dialogue and sometimes even comment on the action for the audience. Silent film_sentence_64

The title writer became a key professional in silent film and was often separate from the scenario writer who created the story. Silent film_sentence_65

Intertitles (or titles as they were generally called at the time) "often were graphic elements themselves, featuring illustrations or abstract decorations that commented on the action". Silent film_sentence_66

Live music and other sound accompaniment Silent film_section_3

Showings of silent films almost always featured live music, starting with the guitarist, at the first public projection of movies by the Lumière brothers on December 28, 1895, in Paris. Silent film_sentence_67

This was furthered in 1896 by the first motion-picture exhibition in the United States at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City. Silent film_sentence_68

At this event, Edison set the precedent that all exhibitions should be accompanied by an orchestra. Silent film_sentence_69

From the beginning, music was recognized as essential, contributing atmosphere, and giving the audience vital emotional cues. Silent film_sentence_70

(Musicians sometimes played on film sets during shooting for similar reasons.) Silent film_sentence_71

However, depending on the size of the exhibition site, musical accompaniment could drastically change in scale. Silent film_sentence_72

Small town and neighborhood movie theatres usually had a pianist. Silent film_sentence_73

Beginning in the mid-1910s, large city theaters tended to have organists or ensembles of musicians. Silent film_sentence_74

Massive theater organs, which were designed to fill a gap between a simple piano soloist and a larger orchestra, had a wide range of special effects. Silent film_sentence_75

Theatrical organs such as the famous "Mighty Wurlitzer" could simulate some orchestral sounds along with a number of percussion effects such as bass drums and cymbals, and sound effects ranging from "train and boat whistles [to] car horns and bird whistles; ... some could even simulate pistol shots, ringing phones, the sound of surf, horses' hooves, smashing pottery, [and] thunder and rain". Silent film_sentence_76

Musical scores for early silent films were either improvised or compiled of classical or theatrical repertory music. Silent film_sentence_77

Once full features became commonplace, however, music was compiled from photoplay music by the pianist, organist, orchestra conductor or the movie studio itself, which included a cue sheet with the film. Silent film_sentence_78

These sheets were often lengthy, with detailed notes about effects and moods to watch for. Silent film_sentence_79

Starting with the mostly original score composed by Joseph Carl Breil for D. Silent film_sentence_80 W. Griffith's groundbreaking epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), it became relatively common for the biggest-budgeted films to arrive at the exhibiting theater with original, specially composed scores. Silent film_sentence_81

However, the first designated full-blown scores had in fact been composed in 1908, by Camille Saint-Saëns for The Assassination of the Duke of Guise, and by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov for Stenka Razin. Silent film_sentence_82

When organists or pianists used sheet music, they still might add improvisational flourishes to heighten the drama on screen. Silent film_sentence_83

Even when special effects were not indicated in the score, if an organist was playing a theater organ capable of an unusual sound effect such as "galloping horses", it would be used during scenes of dramatic horseback chases. Silent film_sentence_84

An example of such is Charlie Chaplin's 1915 film, "By the Sea". Silent film_sentence_85

A fight scene between Chaplin and Billy Armstrong features some dramatic, gallopy music in part of the organist. Silent film_sentence_86

Most of the calm scenes (such as where Chaplin and Armstrong call a truce) has calming, beautiful music, whereas the fight scenes have dramatic, gallopy music. Silent film_sentence_87

At the height of the silent era, movies were the single largest source of employment for instrumental musicians, at least in the United States. Silent film_sentence_88

However, the introduction of talkies coupled with the roughly simultaneous onset of the Great Depression was devastating to many musicians. Silent film_sentence_89

A number of countries devised other ways of bringing sound to silent films. Silent film_sentence_90

The early cinema of Brazil, for example, featured fitas cantadas: filmed operettas with singers performing behind the screen. Silent film_sentence_91

In Japan, films had not only live music but also the benshi, a live narrator who provided commentary and character voices. Silent film_sentence_92

The benshi became a central element in Japanese film, as well as providing translation for foreign (mostly American) movies. Silent film_sentence_93

The popularity of the benshi was one reason why silent films persisted well into the 1930s in Japan. Silent film_sentence_94

Score restorations from 1980 to the present Silent film_section_4

Few film scores survive intact from the silent period, and musicologists are still confronted by questions when they attempt to precisely reconstruct those that remain. Silent film_sentence_95

Scores used in current reissues or screenings of silent films may be complete reconstructions of compositions, newly composed for the occasion, assembled from already existing music libraries, or improvised on the spot in the manner of the silent-era theater musician. Silent film_sentence_96

Interest in the scoring of silent films fell somewhat out of fashion during the 1960s and 1970s. Silent film_sentence_97

There was a belief in many college film programs and repertory cinemas that audiences should experience silent film as a pure visual medium, undistracted by music. Silent film_sentence_98

This belief may have been encouraged by the poor quality of the music tracks found on many silent film reprints of the time. Silent film_sentence_99

Since around 1980, there has been a revival of interest in presenting silent films with quality musical scores (either reworkings of period scores or cue sheets, or the composition of appropriate original scores). Silent film_sentence_100

An early effort of this kind was Kevin Brownlow's 1980 restoration of Abel Gance's Napoléon (1927), featuring a score by Carl Davis. Silent film_sentence_101

A slightly re-edited and sped-up version of Brownlow's restoration was later distributed in the United States by Francis Ford Coppola, with a live orchestral score composed by his father Carmine Coppola. Silent film_sentence_102

In 1984, an edited restoration of Metropolis (1927) was released with a new rock music score by producer-composer Giorgio Moroder. Silent film_sentence_103

Although the contemporary score, which included pop songs by Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, and Jon Anderson of Yes, was controversial, the door had been opened for a new approach to the presentation of classic silent films. Silent film_sentence_104

Today, a large number of soloists, music ensembles, and orchestras perform traditional and contemporary scores for silent films internationally. Silent film_sentence_105

The legendary theater organist Gaylord Carter continued to perform and record his original silent film scores until shortly before his death in 2000; some of those scores are available on DVD reissues. Silent film_sentence_106

Other purveyors of the traditional approach include organists such as Dennis James and pianists such as Neil Brand, Günter Buchwald, Philip C. Carli, Ben Model, and William P. Perry. Silent film_sentence_107

Other contemporary pianists, such as Stephen Horne and Gabriel Thibaudeau, have often taken a more modern approach to scoring. Silent film_sentence_108

Orchestral conductors such as Carl Davis and Robert Israel have written and compiled scores for numerous silent films; many of these have been featured in showings on Turner Classic Movies or have been released on DVD. Silent film_sentence_109

Davis has composed new scores for classic silent dramas such as The Big Parade (1925) and Flesh and the Devil (1927). Silent film_sentence_110

Israel has worked mainly in silent comedy, scoring films of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charley Chase and others. Silent film_sentence_111

Timothy Brock has restored many of Charlie Chaplin's scores, in addition to composing new scores. Silent film_sentence_112

Renée Baker of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project has successfully re-scored the 1929 classic silent film, Linda. Silent film_sentence_113

Contemporary music ensembles are helping to introduce classic silent films to a wider audience through a broad range of musical styles and approaches. Silent film_sentence_114

Some performers create new compositions using traditional musical instruments while others add electronic sounds, modern harmonies, rhythms, improvisation and sound design elements to enhance the viewing experience. Silent film_sentence_115

Among the contemporary ensembles in this category are Un Drame Musical Instantané, Alloy Orchestra, Club Foot Orchestra, Silent Orchestra, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Minima and the Caspervek Trio, RPM Orchestra. Silent film_sentence_116

Donald Sosin and his wife Joanna Seaton specialize in adding vocals to silent films, particularly where there is onscreen singing that benefits from hearing the actual song being performed. Silent film_sentence_117

Films in this category include Griffith's Lady of the Pavements with Lupe Vélez, Edwin Carewe's Evangeline with Dolores del Río, and Rupert Julian's The Phantom of the Opera with Mary Philbin and Virginia Pearson. Silent film_sentence_118

The Silent Film Sound and Music Archive digitizes music and cue sheets written for silent film and makes it available for use by performers, scholars, and enthusiasts. Silent film_sentence_119

Acting techniques Silent film_section_5

Silent-film actors emphasized body language and facial expression so that the audience could better understand what an actor was feeling and portraying on screen. Silent film_sentence_120

Much silent film acting is apt to strike modern-day audiences as simplistic or campy. Silent film_sentence_121

The melodramatic acting style was in some cases a habit actors transferred from their former stage experience. Silent film_sentence_122

Vaudeville was an especially popular origin for many American silent film actors. Silent film_sentence_123

The pervading presence of stage actors in film was the cause of this outburst from director Marshall Neilan in 1917: "The sooner the stage people who have come into pictures get out, the better for the pictures." Silent film_sentence_124

In other cases, directors such as John Griffith Wray required their actors to deliver larger-than-life expressions for emphasis. Silent film_sentence_125

As early as 1914, American viewers had begun to make known their preference for greater naturalness on screen. Silent film_sentence_126

Silent films became less vaudevillian in the mid-1910s, as the differences between stage and screen became apparent. Silent film_sentence_127

Due to the work of directors such as D. Silent film_sentence_128 W. Griffith, cinematography became less stage-like, and the development of the close up allowed for understated and realistic acting. Silent film_sentence_129

Lillian Gish has been called film's "first true actress" for her work in the period, as she pioneered new film performing techniques, recognizing the crucial differences between stage and screen acting. Silent film_sentence_130

Directors such as Albert Capellani and Maurice Tourneur began to insist on naturalism in their films. Silent film_sentence_131

By the mid-1920s many American silent films had adopted a more naturalistic acting style, though not all actors and directors accepted naturalistic, low-key acting straight away; as late as 1927, films featuring expressionistic acting styles, such as Metropolis, were still being released. Silent film_sentence_132

Greta Garbo, who made her debut in 1926, would become known for her naturalistic acting. Silent film_sentence_133

According to Anton Kaes, a silent film scholar from the University of California, Berkeley, American silent cinema began to see a shift in acting techniques between 1913 and 1921, influenced by techniques found in German silent film. Silent film_sentence_134

This is mainly attributed to the influx of emigrants from the Weimar Republic, "including film directors, producers, cameramen, lighting and stage technicians, as well as actors and actresses". Silent film_sentence_135

Projection speed Silent film_section_6

Until the standardization of the projection speed of 24 frames per second (fps) for sound films between 1926 and 1930, silent films were shot at variable speeds (or "frame rates") anywhere from 12 to 40 fps, depending on the year and studio. Silent film_sentence_136

"Standard silent film speed" is often said to be 16 fps as a result of the Lumière brothers' Cinématographe, but industry practice varied considerably; there was no actual standard. Silent film_sentence_137

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, an Edison employee, settled on the astonishingly fast 40 frames per second. Silent film_sentence_138

Additionally, cameramen of the era insisted that their cranking technique was exactly 16 fps, but modern examination of the films shows this to be in error, that they often cranked faster. Silent film_sentence_139

Unless carefully shown at their intended speeds silent films can appear unnaturally fast or slow. Silent film_sentence_140

However, some scenes were intentionally undercranked during shooting to accelerate the action—particularly for comedies and action films. Silent film_sentence_141

Slow projection of a cellulose nitrate base film carried a risk of fire, as each frame was exposed for a longer time to the intense heat of the projection lamp; but there were other reasons to project a film at a greater pace. Silent film_sentence_142

Often projectionists received general instructions from the distributors on the musical director's cue sheet as to how fast particular reels or scenes should be projected. Silent film_sentence_143

In rare instances, usually for larger productions, cue sheets produced specifically for the projectionist provided a detailed guide to presenting the film. Silent film_sentence_144

Theaters also—to maximize profit—sometimes varied projection speeds depending on the time of day or popularity of a film, or to fit a film into a prescribed time slot. Silent film_sentence_145

All motion-picture film projectors require a moving shutter to block the light whilst the film is moving, otherwise the image is smeared in the direction of the movement. Silent film_sentence_146

However this shutter causes the image to flicker, and images with low rates of flicker are very unpleasant to watch. Silent film_sentence_147

Early studies by Thomas Edison for his Kinetoscope machine determined that any rate below 46 images per second "will strain the eye". Silent film_sentence_148

and this holds true for projected images under normal cinema conditions also. Silent film_sentence_149

The solution adopted for the Kinetoscope was to run the film at over 40 frames/sec, but this was expensive for film. Silent film_sentence_150

However, by using projectors with dual- and triple-blade shutters the flicker rate is multiplied two or three times higher than the number of film frames — each frame being flashed two or three times on screen. Silent film_sentence_151

A three-blade shutter projecting a 16 fps film will slightly surpass Edison's figure, giving the audience 48 images per second. Silent film_sentence_152

During the silent era projectors were commonly fitted with 3-bladed shutters. Silent film_sentence_153

Since the introduction of sound with its 24 frame/sec standard speed 2-bladed shutters have become the norm for 35 mm cinema projectors, though three-bladed shutters have remained standard on 16 mm and 8 mm projectors, which are frequently used to project amateur footage shot at 16 or 18 frames/sec. Silent film_sentence_154

A 35 mm film frame rate of 24 fps translates to a film speed of 456 millimetres (18.0 in) per second. Silent film_sentence_155

One 1,000-foot (300 m) reel requires 11 minutes and 7 seconds to be projected at 24 fps, while a 16 fps projection of the same reel would take 16 minutes and 40 seconds, or 304 millimetres (12.0 in) per second. Silent film_sentence_156

In the 1950s, many telecine conversions of silent films at grossly incorrect frame rates for broadcast television may have alienated viewers. Silent film_sentence_157

Film speed is often a vexed issue among scholars and film buffs in the presentation of silents today, especially when it comes to DVD releases of restored films, such as the case of the 2002 restoration of Metropolis. Silent film_sentence_158

Tinting Silent film_section_7

Main article: Film tinting Silent film_sentence_159

With the lack of natural color processing available, films of the silent era were frequently dipped in dyestuffs and dyed various shades and hues to signal a mood or represent a time of day. Silent film_sentence_160

Hand tinting dates back to 1895 in the United States with Edison's release of selected hand-tinted prints of Butterfly Dance. Silent film_sentence_161

Additionally, experiments in color film started as early as in 1909, although it took a much longer time for color to be adopted by the industry and an effective process to be developed. Silent film_sentence_162

Blue represented night scenes, yellow or amber meant day. Silent film_sentence_163

Red represented fire and green represented a mysterious atmosphere. Silent film_sentence_164

Similarly, toning of film (such as the common silent film generalization of sepia-toning) with special solutions replaced the silver particles in the film stock with salts or dyes of various colors. Silent film_sentence_165

A combination of tinting and toning could be used as an effect that could be striking. Silent film_sentence_166

Some films were hand-tinted, such as Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894), from Edison Studios. Silent film_sentence_167

In it, Annabelle Whitford, a young dancer from Broadway, is dressed in white veils that appear to change colors as she dances. Silent film_sentence_168

This technique was designed to capture the effect of the live performances of Loie Fuller, beginning in 1891, in which stage lights with colored gels turned her white flowing dresses and sleeves into artistic movement. Silent film_sentence_169

Hand coloring was often used in the early "trick" and fantasy films of Europe, especially those by Georges Méliès. Silent film_sentence_170

Méliès began hand-tinting his work as early as 1897 and the 1899 Cendrillion (Cinderella) and 1900 Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) provide early examples of hand-tinted films in which the color was a critical part of the scenography or mise en scène; such precise tinting used the workshop of Elisabeth Thuillier in Paris, with teams of female artists adding layers of color to each frame by hand rather than using a more common (and less expensive) process of stenciling. Silent film_sentence_171

A newly restored version of Méliès' A Trip to the Moon, originally released in 1902, shows an exuberant use of color designed to add texture and interest to the image. Silent film_sentence_172

Comments by an American distributor in a 1908 film-supply catalog further underscore France's continuing dominance in the field of hand-coloring films during the early silent era. Silent film_sentence_173

The distributor offers for sale at varying prices "High-Class" motion pictures by Pathé, Urban-Eclipse, Gaumont, Kalem, Itala Film, Ambrosio Film, and Selig. Silent film_sentence_174

Several of the longer, more prestigious films in the catalog are offered in both standard black-and-white "plain stock" as well as in "hand-painted" color. Silent film_sentence_175

A plain-stock copy, for example, of the 1907 release Ben Hur is offered for $120 ($3,415 USD today), while a colored version of the same 1000-foot, 15-minute film costs $270 ($7,683) including the extra $150 coloring charge, which amounted to 15 cents more per foot. Silent film_sentence_176

Although the reasons for the cited extra charge were likely obvious to customers, the distributor explains why his catalog's colored films command such significantly higher prices and require more time for delivery. Silent film_sentence_177

His explanation also provides insight into the general state of film-coloring services in the United States by 1908: Silent film_sentence_178

By the beginning of the 1910s, with the onset of feature-length films, tinting was used as another mood setter, just as commonplace as music. Silent film_sentence_179

The director D. Silent film_sentence_180 W. Griffith displayed a constant interest and concern about color, and used tinting as a special effect in many of his films. Silent film_sentence_181

His 1915 epic, The Birth of a Nation, used a number of colors, including amber, blue, lavender, and a striking red tint for scenes such as the "burning of Atlanta" and the ride of the Ku Klux Klan at the climax of the picture. Silent film_sentence_182

Griffith later invented a color system in which colored lights flashed on areas of the screen to achieve a color. Silent film_sentence_183

With the development of sound-on-film technology and the industry's acceptance of it, tinting was abandoned altogether, because the dyes used in the tinting process interfered with the soundtracks present on film strips. Silent film_sentence_184

Early studios Silent film_section_8

The early studios were located in the New York City area. Silent film_sentence_185

Edison Studios were first in West Orange, New Jersey (1892), they were moved to the Bronx, New York (1907). Silent film_sentence_186

Fox (1909) and Biograph (1906) started in Manhattan, with studios in St George, Staten Island. Silent film_sentence_187

Others films were shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Silent film_sentence_188

In December 1908, Edison led the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to control the industry and shut out smaller producers. Silent film_sentence_189

The "Edison Trust", as it was nicknamed, was made up of Edison, Biograph, Essanay Studios, Kalem Company, George Kleine Productions, Lubin Studios, Georges Méliès, Pathé, Selig Studios, and Vitagraph Studios, and dominated distribution through the General Film Company. Silent film_sentence_190

This company dominated the industry as both a vertical and horizontal monopoly and is a contributing factor in studios' migration to the West Coast. Silent film_sentence_191

The Motion Picture Patents Co. and the General Film Co. were found guilty of antitrust violation in October 1915, and were dissolved. Silent film_sentence_192

The Thanhouser film studio was founded in New Rochelle, New York, in 1909 by American theatrical impresario Edwin Thanhouser. Silent film_sentence_193

The company produced and released 1,086 films between 1910 and 1917, including the first film serial ever, The Million Dollar Mystery, released in 1914. Silent film_sentence_194

The first westerns were filmed at Fred Scott's Movie Ranch in South Beach, Staten Island. Silent film_sentence_195

Actors costumed as cowboys and Native Americans galloped across Scott's movie ranch set, which had a frontier main street, a wide selection of stagecoaches and a 56-foot stockade. Silent film_sentence_196

The island provided a serviceable stand-in for locations as varied as the Sahara desert and a British cricket pitch. Silent film_sentence_197

War scenes were shot on the plains of Grasmere, Staten Island. Silent film_sentence_198

The Perils of Pauline and its even more popular sequel The Exploits of Elaine were filmed largely on the island. Silent film_sentence_199

So was the 1906 blockbuster Life of a Cowboy, by Edwin S. Porter. Silent film_sentence_200 Company and filming moved to the West Coast around 1912. Silent film_sentence_201

Top-grossing silent films in the United States Silent film_section_9

The following are American films from the silent film era that had earned the highest gross income as of 1932. Silent film_sentence_202

The amounts given are gross rentals (the distributor's share of the box-office) as opposed to exhibition gross. Silent film_sentence_203

Silent film_table_general_0

TitleSilent film_header_cell_0_0_0 YearSilent film_header_cell_0_0_1 Director(s)Silent film_header_cell_0_0_2 Gross rentalSilent film_header_cell_0_0_3 Ref.Silent film_header_cell_0_0_4
The Birth of a NationSilent film_header_cell_0_1_0 1915Silent film_cell_0_1_1 D. W. GriffithSilent film_cell_0_1_2 $10,000,000Silent film_cell_0_1_3 Silent film_cell_0_1_4
The Big ParadeSilent film_header_cell_0_2_0 1925Silent film_cell_0_2_1 King VidorSilent film_cell_0_2_2 $6,400,000Silent film_cell_0_2_3 Silent film_cell_0_2_4
Ben-HurSilent film_header_cell_0_3_0 1925Silent film_cell_0_3_1 Fred NibloSilent film_cell_0_3_2 $5,500,000Silent film_cell_0_3_3 Silent film_cell_0_3_4
Way Down EastSilent film_header_cell_0_4_0 1920Silent film_cell_0_4_1 D. W. GriffithSilent film_cell_0_4_2 $5,000,000Silent film_cell_0_4_3 Silent film_cell_0_4_4
The Gold RushSilent film_header_cell_0_5_0 1925Silent film_cell_0_5_1 Charlie ChaplinSilent film_cell_0_5_2 $4,250,000Silent film_cell_0_5_3 Silent film_cell_0_5_4
The Four Horsemen of the ApocalypseSilent film_header_cell_0_6_0 1921Silent film_cell_0_6_1 Rex IngramSilent film_cell_0_6_2 $4,000,000Silent film_cell_0_6_3 Silent film_cell_0_6_4
The CircusSilent film_header_cell_0_7_0 1928Silent film_cell_0_7_1 Charlie ChaplinSilent film_cell_0_7_2 $3,800,000Silent film_cell_0_7_3 Silent film_cell_0_7_4
The Covered WagonSilent film_header_cell_0_8_0 1923Silent film_cell_0_8_1 James CruzeSilent film_cell_0_8_2 $3,800,000Silent film_cell_0_8_3 Silent film_cell_0_8_4
The Hunchback of Notre DameSilent film_header_cell_0_9_0 1923Silent film_cell_0_9_1 Wallace WorsleySilent film_cell_0_9_2 $3,500,000Silent film_cell_0_9_3 Silent film_cell_0_9_4
The Ten CommandmentsSilent film_header_cell_0_10_0 1923Silent film_cell_0_10_1 Cecil B. DeMilleSilent film_cell_0_10_2 $3,400,000Silent film_cell_0_10_3 Silent film_cell_0_10_4
Orphans of the StormSilent film_header_cell_0_11_0 1921Silent film_cell_0_11_1 D. W. GriffithSilent film_cell_0_11_2 $3,000,000Silent film_cell_0_11_3 Silent film_cell_0_11_4
For Heaven's SakeSilent film_header_cell_0_12_0 1926Silent film_cell_0_12_1 Sam TaylorSilent film_cell_0_12_2 $2,600,000Silent film_cell_0_12_3 Silent film_cell_0_12_4
7th HeavenSilent film_header_cell_0_13_0 1927Silent film_cell_0_13_1 Frank BorzageSilent film_cell_0_13_2 $2,500,000Silent film_cell_0_13_3 Silent film_cell_0_13_4
What Price Glory?Silent film_header_cell_0_14_0 1926Silent film_cell_0_14_1 Raoul WalshSilent film_cell_0_14_2 $2,400,000Silent film_cell_0_14_3 Silent film_cell_0_14_4
Abie's Irish RoseSilent film_header_cell_0_15_0 1928Silent film_cell_0_15_1 Victor FlemingSilent film_cell_0_15_2 $1,500,000Silent film_cell_0_15_3 Silent film_cell_0_15_4

During the sound era Silent film_section_10

Transition Silent film_section_11

Although attempts to create sync-sound motion pictures go back to the Edison lab in 1896, only from the early 1920s were the basic technologies such as vacuum tube amplifiers and high-quality loudspeakers available. Silent film_sentence_204

The next few years saw a race to design, implement, and market several rival sound-on-disc and sound-on-film sound formats, such as Photokinema (1921), Phonofilm (1923), Vitaphone (1926), Fox Movietone (1927) and RCA Photophone (1928). Silent film_sentence_205

Warner Bros was the first studio to accept sound as an element in film production and utilize Vitaphone, a sound-on-disc technology, to do so. Silent film_sentence_206

The studio then released The Jazz Singer in 1927, which marked the first commercially successful sound film, but silent films were still the majority of features released in both 1927 and 1928, along with so-called goat-glanded films: silents with a subsection of sound film inserted. Silent film_sentence_207

Thus the modern sound film era may be regarded as coming to dominance beginning in 1929. Silent film_sentence_208

For a listing of notable silent era films, see List of years in film for the years between the beginning of film and 1928. Silent film_sentence_209

The following list includes only films produced in the sound era with the specific artistic intention of being silent. Silent film_sentence_210

Silent film_unordered_list_0

Later homages Silent film_section_12

Several filmmakers have paid homage to the comedies of the silent era, including Charlie Chaplin, with Modern Times (1936), Orson Welles with Too Much Johnson (1938), Jacques Tati with Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), Pierre Etaix with The Suitor (1962), and Mel Brooks with Silent Movie (1976). Silent film_sentence_211

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's acclaimed drama Three Times (2005) is silent during its middle third, complete with intertitles; Stanley Tucci's The Impostors has an opening silent sequence in the style of early silent comedies. Silent film_sentence_212

Brazilian filmmaker Renato Falcão's Margarette's Feast (2003) is silent. Silent film_sentence_213

Writer / Director Michael Pleckaitis puts his own twist on the genre with Silent (2007). Silent film_sentence_214

While not silent, the Mr. Silent film_sentence_215 Bean television series and movies have used the title character's non-talkative nature to create a similar style of humor. Silent film_sentence_216

A lesser-known example is Jérôme Savary's La fille du garde-barrière (1975), an homage to silent-era films that uses intertitles and blends comedy, drama, and explicit sex scenes (which led to it being refused a cinema certificate by the British Board of Film Classification). Silent film_sentence_217

In 1990, Charles Lane directed and starred in Sidewalk Stories, a low budget salute to sentimental silent comedies, particularly Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. Silent film_sentence_218

The German film Tuvalu (1999) is mostly silent; the small amount of dialog is an odd mix of European languages, increasing the film's universality. Silent film_sentence_219

Guy Maddin won awards for his homage to Soviet era silent films with his short The Heart of the World after which he made a feature-length silent, Brand Upon the Brain! Silent film_sentence_220

(2006), incorporating live Foley artists, narration and orchestra at select showings. Silent film_sentence_221

Shadow of the Vampire (2000) is a highly fictionalized depiction of the filming of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's classic silent vampire movie Nosferatu (1922). Silent film_sentence_222

Werner Herzog honored the same film in his own version, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979). Silent film_sentence_223

Some films draw a direct contrast between the silent film era and the era of talkies. Silent film_sentence_224

Sunset Boulevard shows the disconnect between the two eras in the character of Norma Desmond, played by silent film star Gloria Swanson, and Singin' in the Rain deals with Hollywood artists adjusting to the talkies. Silent film_sentence_225

Peter Bogdanovich's 1976 film Nickelodeon deals with the turmoil of silent filmmaking in Hollywood during the early 1910s, leading up to the release of D. Silent film_sentence_226 W. Griffith's epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Silent film_sentence_227

In 1999, the Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki produced Juha in black-and-white, which captures the style of a silent film, using intertitles in place of spoken dialogue. Silent film_sentence_228

Special release prints with titles in several different languages were produced for international distribution. Silent film_sentence_229

In India, the film Pushpak (1988), starring Kamal Hassan, was a black comedy entirely devoid of dialog. Silent film_sentence_230

The Australian film Doctor Plonk (2007), was a silent comedy directed by Rolf de Heer. Silent film_sentence_231

Stage plays have drawn upon silent film styles and sources. Silent film_sentence_232

Actor/writers Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore staged their Off-Broadway slapstick comedy Silent Laughter as a live action tribute to the silent screen era. Silent film_sentence_233

Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford created and starred in All Wear Bowlers (2004), which started as an homage to Laurel and Hardy then evolved to incorporate life-sized silent film sequences of Sobelle and Lyford who jump back and forth between live action and the silver screen. Silent film_sentence_234

The animated film Fantasia (1940), which is eight different animation sequences set to music, can be considered a silent film, with only one short scene involving dialogue. Silent film_sentence_235

The espionage film The Thief (1952) has music and sound effects, but no dialogue, as do Thierry Zéno's 1974 Vase de Noces and Patrick Bokanowski's 1982 The Angel. Silent film_sentence_236

In 2005, the H. Silent film_sentence_237 P. Lovecraft Historical Society produced a silent film version of Lovecraft's story The Call of Cthulhu. Silent film_sentence_238

This film maintained a period-accurate filming style, and was received as both "the best HPL adaptation to date" and, referring to the decision to make it as a silent movie, "a brilliant conceit". Silent film_sentence_239

The French film The Artist (2011), written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, plays as a silent film and is set in Hollywood during the silent era. Silent film_sentence_240

It also includes segments of fictitious silent films starring its protagonists. Silent film_sentence_241

The Japanese vampire film Sanguivorous (2011) is not only done in the style of a silent film, but even toured with live orchestral accompiment. Silent film_sentence_242

Eugene Chadbourne has been among those who have played live music for the film. Silent film_sentence_243

Blancanieves is a 2012 Spanish black-and-white silent fantasy drama film written and directed by Pablo Berger. Silent film_sentence_244

The American feature-length silent film Silent Life started in 2006, features performances by Isabella Rossellini and Galina Jovovich, mother of Milla Jovovich, will premiere in 2013. Silent film_sentence_245

The film is based on the life of the silent screen icon Rudolph Valentino, known as the Hollywood's first "Great Lover". Silent film_sentence_246

After the emergency surgery, Valentino loses his grip of reality and begins to see the recollection of his life in Hollywood from a perspective of a coma – as a silent film shown at a movie palace, the magical portal between life and eternity, between reality and illusion. Silent film_sentence_247

The Picnic is a 2012 short film made in the style of two-reel silent melodramas and comedies. Silent film_sentence_248

It was part of the exhibit, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, a 2018-2019 exhibit curated by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Silent film_sentence_249

The film was shown inside a miniature 12-seat Art Deco movie palace on wheels called The Capitol Theater, created by Oakland, Ca. art collective Five Ton Crane. Silent film_sentence_250

Right There is a 2013 short film that is an homage to silent film comedies. Silent film_sentence_251

The 2015 British animated film Shaun the Sheep Movie based on Shaun the Sheep was released to positive reviews and was a box office success. Silent film_sentence_252

Aardman Animations also produced Morph and Timmy Time as well as many other silent short films. Silent film_sentence_253

The American Theatre Organ Society pays homage to the music of silent films, as well as the theatre organs that played such music. Silent film_sentence_254

With over 75 local chapters, the organization seeks to preserve and promote theater organs and music, as an art form. Silent film_sentence_255

The Globe International Silent Film Festival (GISFF) is an annual event focusing on image and atmosphere in cinema which takes place in a reputable university or academic environment every year and is a platform for showcasing and judging films from filmmakers who are active in this field. Silent film_sentence_256

In 2018 film director Christopher Annino shot the now internationally award-winning feature silent film of its kind Silent Times. Silent film_sentence_257

The film gives homage to many of the characters from the 1920s including Officer Keystone played by David Blair, and Enzio Marchello who portrays a Charlie Chaplin character. Silent film_sentence_258

Silent Times has won best silent film at the Oniros Film Festival. Silent film_sentence_259

Set in a small New England town, the story centers on Oliver Henry III (played by Westerly native Geoff Blanchette), a small-time crook turned vaudeville theater owner. Silent film_sentence_260

From humble beginnings in England, he immigrates to the US in search of happiness and fast cash. Silent film_sentence_261

He becomes acquainted with people from all walks of life, from burlesque performers, mimes, hobos to classy flapper girls, as his fortunes rise and his life spins ever more out of control. Silent film_sentence_262

Preservation and lost films Silent film_section_13

Further information: Lost film and Film preservation Silent film_sentence_263

The vast majority of the silent films produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are considered lost. Silent film_sentence_264

According to a September 2013 report published by the United States Library of Congress, some 70 percent of American silent feature films fall into this category. Silent film_sentence_265

There are numerous reasons for this number being so high. Silent film_sentence_266

Some films have been lost unintentionally, but most silent films were destroyed on purpose. Silent film_sentence_267

Between the end of the silent era and the rise of home video, film studios would often discard large numbers of silent films out of a desire to free up storage in their archives, assuming that they had lost the cultural relevance and economic value to justify the amount of space they occupied. Silent film_sentence_268

Additionally, due to the fragile nature of the nitrate film stock which was used to shoot and distribute silent films, many motion pictures have irretrievably deteriorated or have been lost in accidents, including fires (because nitrate is highly flammable and can spontaneously combust when stored improperly). Silent film_sentence_269

Examples of such incidents include the 1965 MGM vault fire and the 1937 Fox vault fire, both of which incited catastrophic losses of films. Silent film_sentence_270

Many such films not completely destroyed survive only partially, or in badly damaged prints. Silent film_sentence_271

Some lost films, such as London After Midnight (1927), lost in the MGM fire, have been the subject of considerable interest by film collectors and historians. Silent film_sentence_272

Major silent films presumed lost include: Silent film_sentence_273

Silent film_unordered_list_1

Though most lost silent films will never be recovered, some have been discovered in film archives or private collections. Silent film_sentence_274

Discovered and preserved versions may be editions made for the home rental market of the 1920s and 1930s that are discovered in estate sales, etc. Silent film_sentence_275

The degradation of old film stock can be slowed through proper archiving, and films can be transferred to safety film stock or to digital media for preservation. Silent film_sentence_276

The preservation of silent films has been a high priority for historians and archivists. Silent film_sentence_277

Dawson Film Find Silent film_section_14

Dawson City, in the Yukon territory of Canada, was once the end of the distribution line for many films. Silent film_sentence_278

In 1978, a cache of more than 500 reels of nitrate film was discovered during the excavation of a vacant lot formerly the site of the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association, which had started showing films at their recreation centre in 1903. Silent film_sentence_279

Works by Pearl White, Helen Holmes, Grace Cunard, Lois Weber, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, and Lon Chaney, among others, were included, as well as many newsreels. Silent film_sentence_280

The titles were stored at the local library until 1929 when the flammable nitrate was used as landfill in a condemned swimming pool. Silent film_sentence_281

Having spent 50 years under the permafrost of the Yukon, the reels turned out to be extremely well preserved. Silent film_sentence_282

Owing to its dangerous chemical volatility, the historical find was moved by military transport to Library and Archives Canada and the US Library of Congress for storage (and transfer to safety film). Silent film_sentence_283

A documentary about the find, Dawson City: Frozen Time was released in 2016. Silent film_sentence_284

See also Silent film_section_15

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent film.