Early Cinema. Space, Frame, Narrative

Thomas Elsaesser (ed.)

British Film Institute / Indiana University Press, 424pp

In the twenty years preceding the First World War, cinema rapidly developed from a fairground curiosity into a major industry and a social institution, a source of information and entertainment for millions of people. Only recently have film scholars and historians begun to study these early years of cinema in their own right and not simply as first steps towards the classical narrative cinema we now associate with Hollywood.


I – Early Film Form: Articulations of Space and Time


Thomas Elsaesser 

Shot Relations, Narration: Articulating Space and Time

Film Form 1990–1906

Barry Salt 

Deep Staging in French Films 1900–1914

Ben Brewster 

The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde

Tom Gunning 

Lumière: Actualities, Fiction, Narrative

Let There Be Lumière

Dai Vaughan 

Film, Narrative, Narration: The Cinema of the Lumière Brothers

André Gaudreault 

From Lumière to Pathé: The Break-Up of Perspectival Space

Richard deCordova 

Méliès: Continuity, Non-Continuity, Discontinuity

Non-Continuity, Continuity. Discontinuity: A Theory of Genres in Early Films

Tom Gunning 

'Primitive' Cinema: A Frame-Up? Or, The Trick's on Us

Tom Gunning 

Shots in the Dark – The Real Origins of Film Editing

Stephen Bottomore 

Porter: Adapting, Presenting, Narrating

The Infringement of Copyright Laws and its Effects (1900–1906)

André Gaudreault 

The Travel Genre in 1903-1904: Moving Towards Fictional Narrative

Charles Musser 

Detours in Film Narrative: The Development of Cross-Cutting

André Gaudreault 

II – The Institution Cinema: Industry, Commodity, Audiences


Thomas Elsaesser 

Mode of Production: The Struggle for Economic Control

Economic Conditions of Early Cinema

Michael Chanan 

Combination and Litigation: Structures of US Film Distribution, 1896–1917

Janet Stager 

In the Beginning Was the Word: Six Pre-Griffith Motion Picture Scenarios

Patrick G. Loughney 

Mode of Representation: Audiences and Social Control

A Primitive Mode of Representation?

Noël Burch 

Early Cinema - Whose Public Sphere?

Miriam Hansen 

Some Historical Footnotes to the Kuleshov Experiment

Yuri Tsivian 

Mode of Presentation: Showmanship and Exhibition Control

The Nickelodeon Era Begins: Establishing the Framework for Hollywood's Mode of Representation

Charles Musser 

Showing and Telling: Image and Word in Early Cinema

André Gaudreault 

Silent Films – What Was the Right Speed?

Kevin Brownlow 

III – The Continuity System: Griffith and Beyond


Thomas Elsaesser and Adam Barker 

Mode of Address, Narration

A Scene at the 'Movies'

Ben Brewster 

'A Properly Adjusted Window': Vision and Sanity in D. W. Griffith's 1908–1909 Biograph Films

Anne Friedberg 


Weaving a Narrative: Style and Economic Background in Griffith's Biograph Films

Tom Gunning 

Griffith – The Frame, the Figure

Jacques Aumont 

To Alternate/To Narrate

Raymond Bellour 

European Cinema of the 1910s: Alternatives to the Classical Paradigm

Spatial and Temporal Articulation in Pre-Classical Swedish Film

John Fullerton 

'The Student of Prague': Division and Codification of Space

Leon Hunt 


Thomas Elsaesser