Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Movies Begin - A Treasury of Early Cinema 1894-1913|
Actors: Film Preservation Associates, British Film Institute
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Classics, Comedy, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
The home-video revolution has yielded a wealth of valuable compilations, but few are as miraculously definitive as The Movies Begin. Equally suited to home or classroom viewing, this authoritative five-volume set is a vita... more »
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Not to be missed
Gwen Kramer | Sunny and not-so-sunny California | 11/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To the casual movie viewer, the history of cinema begins in the 1930s, when silents were totally replaced with the new talkie medium. Beyond an occasional showing of The Phantom of the Opera or a few Keaton or Chaplin movies, silents- and especially early silents- are a part of the murky past. This collection is a real eye opener to either a movie fan who wants to broaden their knowledge or someone who, like me, is a silent movie fan who wants to see how it all began.This collection offers a broad variety. From early melodramas and comedies to newsreel footage and special effects vehicles. The two most famous early silents- The Great Train Robbery and A Trip to the Moon- are shown here but other, more unusual films such as the Golden Beetle and the Grass Widower are also allowed to shine. The picture quality is excellant especially considering the age of these films.The music by Robert Israel is wonderful, always appropriate and quite a bit less sober than most silent movie music. Even my mother, who likes silents but dislikes silent movie music enjoyed it. It should please both purists and casual fans.One fault I found with this collection is that some movies have narration whether you want it or not. It surely would not have been difficult to include an on/off function for the commentary track. Also, at points the sound is badly mixed so that the music drowns out the narrator. However, this fairly minor flaw did not ruin my enjoyment of the collection.I particularly enjoyed the pre-WWI French films, it is easy to see why the French imports could outshine much of the American output. They are beautifully produced, make no bones about their staginess and have an element of playful fantasy. The last disc has a film of the wonderful French comedian Max Linder, it's a shame that he never regained his pre-war popularity because his comedy is spurisingly modern and he has obvious charisma.The newsreels are also a highlight, Russia in the winter, various "working dogs", an english biscuit factory... all are valuable historically as well as very amusing.This set is cheap at the price and while not all of the films can be called masterpieces, they are all important in reconstructing a period of cinema history that is too often ignored. If you have any interest in the story of earlky cinema, I recommend this set without reservation."
Essential, but by no means perfect
K. Oleszczyk | Tarnowskie Gory, Poland | 08/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's no doubt that this is an essential purchase for anyone interested in early cinema: MOVIES BEGIN includes many of the landmarks, as well as some fascinating rarieties. There are tons of fun: classics by Cecil Hepworth, Edison, the Lumieres, and many others. There's no other such extenstive DVD compillation on the market and KINO ON VIDEO should be immensly praised.
However, if you consider it not for its educational values, but as a DVD edition per se, there are major flaws. First of all, commentary track (no matter how insightful) isn't optional, which is below any standards. Secondly, all the foriegn films have electronically imposed English subtitles which are impossible to reduce - it makes a bad ?old video tape" impression. Film notes included on the disc itself are very interesting, but the edition as a whole simply yields for a booklet which could accompany you while watching. Furthermore, there's no precise information on the sleeve notes about the exact duration of each separate movie, only enigmatic ?total running time", which makes it less comfortable to use e. g. during classes.
It may seem that I sneer at something very beautiful and indeed it is so - but every beautiful thing may be improved upon. In fact, the amazing recent edition of the Edison films also by KINO proves that they are learning.
Whatever are my complaints, this one remains a compulsory viewing.
Michal Oleszczyk, Tarnowskie Gory, Poland"
A Tremendous Collection
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 07/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set contains over 100 films from the early days of the silent cinema - beginning with some of the early serial photography experiments by Edward Muybridge.We see the works of the Edison Studio, the early Lumiere Brothers films, and a great selection of Melies films. Most amazing to me were the tinted films from the Pathe Freres company. There are two films that are absolutely astounding, as every frame of the film was tinted by hand. The colors are vibrant and surprisingly consistent. Friends who have watched these films have come away simply shocked.The films presented here are not all interesting. There are quite a few films from the infancy of cinema, when the camera was used to create scenes that are really the equivalent of postcards, where a still camera would have produced the same effect. Many films are incomplete, a sad fact of cinema preservation, and often frustrating when you don't get to see the second half of the film! There are no Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Fatty Arbuckle films to be seen here, and only one D.W. Griffith film. (Griffith will be well represented in a future release put together by David Shepherd's "Film Preservation Associates" on Image DVD.)What is here are the true beginnings of an art form, the experiments that made film what it is now. There are also excellent program notes by Charles Musser, which really help explain what is being seen, especially when parts of a film are missing. Kudos to the Kino company for including these notes!If you are a cinema nut, and interested in the origins of film, then this set is highly recommended!"
An Amazing Piece of History
K. Oleszczyk | 05/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 5 DVD set is not, by any stretch of the imagination, cheap, but if you have any interest in silent films, or the history of movie making, it is a must-have.
The 5 disks are organized, not chronologically, but, roughly, by theme. Within each disk, the films are organized by production company/director.
And the range of content is amazing. From 30 second, plotless snippets of action (a kiss, ocean waves, etc.), to full one-reel mini-features and hand-colored fantasy extravaganzas, this set offers it all.
Amazing too is the quality of the films. While a few are badly scratched or fuzzy (presumably the best quality prints available), most are crisp and pristine -- amazing both considering the age of the original prints themselves (some over a century old!), and the primitive equipment that was used to create the original films. Many of the films include early experiments with special effects -- often surprisingly convincing -- and, as mentioned earlier, some are even in color.
Comedy, drama, documentaries -- it's all here, even a little sex. (Though the 'peepshows' that are described as being of 'burlesque origin, intended for titillation and amusement', are pretty unerotic, even by late Victorian standards.)
Most of the films are accompanied by appropriate music. A few are preceeded by spoken commentary about the history of the film and/or its producer and, at least one (Trip to the Moon) has a spoken narration. I'm not certain if the movie originally had title cards which have been lost, or if it was intended to be narrated during viewing.
Even for silent film fans, silent features can sometimes try the patience a bit (you can't look away from the screen, or you lose track of the action), but these brief films can be viewed a few at at time, and fully enjoyed.