Friday, October 23, 2009

1896.. The year that Biograph started to show movies around the country. An original program from that year of a Biograph show.

The days of movies being shown on a screen were a true novelty in 1896. W.K.L. Dickson and Thomas Edison had developed their early movies mainly in a form of individual entertainment. It would be a while till the Edison system would be practical. The best form of films available at the time was in the form that was developed by the American Biograph company of New York, which W.K.L. Dickson was involved after leaving Edison.
This is a program from one of the first appearances of film before the public. Starting in the late Summer of 1896, Biograph started having shows in which their product could be seen by the general public. It was quite a success.

The original program. Note that the movies were not enough to get the public in. There was a complete show done there as well. It was all so new. The public did not know much about it yet. So they not only had a show, they got to see the beginnings of the motion picture industry

The Columbia Theater in Chicago. This is where this event took place. It was opened in 1881, and sadly burned down in 1900

The interior of the theater.

There were several subjects of this early demonstration of film. Great actors such as Joseph Jefferson. Natural scenes, and scenes of everyday life such as trains and the like.

Perhaps the most unusual and unique subjects of these shorts is President-elect William McKinley and Vice President-elect Hobart. They were filmed walking in front of McKinley's home.
In reality they really had no idea what to do...It was so new and so they just walked slowly toward the camera. It was like being at home and having someone hold a video camera in front of you and say do something!

It was the last time a President would look oh so awkward on camera.

But McKinley would become the first President captured by the new medium. And more people saw McKinley than any other President before him.

It must have been amazing to see these movie shorts well over 110 years ago. It must have been amazing to see and I can just imagine the reaction of the audience. The gasps, laughter, and sounds of amazement as they watched what we can truly say is history unfold before their very eyes.

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