1910s Films: The Beginning of Movie Storytelling
Film had only been around for about a decade when the 1910s arrived. During that one decade, film transformed from moving images to true stories. Although some of these may seem a bit simplistic to our modern tastes, they are worth seeing since the stories are still so good.
Giovanni Pastrone – A fascinating epic that in some ways is really the first epic. During the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, young Cabira is kidnapped by pirates during one eruption of the Etna. A Roman and his trusty servant try to save her. [Warning: the scenes of child sacrifice at the temple of Molech, although not bloody, could be disturbing.]
Birth of a Nation (1915)*
D.W. Griffith – This is the complex and extremely controversial masterpiece that ranks as one of the most important films of all time. Griffith single-handledly influenced every film that came after it, introducing countless elements of filmmaking that now seem quite common. The story is in two parts: the first part explores how the Civil War destroys families; the second looks at the impact of reconstruction on the South. [Warning: there is a lot of material in this that is considered racist today, but was far more common 100 years ago.]
The Rink (1916)
Charlie Chaplin (short) – In 1916, Charlie Chaplin was paid $700,000 to make 12 films. The results are his “Mutual” comedies, some of the greatest comedy shorts of all time. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but this film and the Immigrant are really fantastic. A delight for all ages.
A Dog’s Life (1919)
Charlie Chaplin (short) – My absolute favorite Chaplin film of all time. This shows what an amazing producer/director/writer/actor Chaplin was. He tries to dance with a dog tied to him; he somehow steals food by stuffing it into his mouth without the vendor knowing; and he incredibly knocks out someone, then impersonates him without the other person knowing. A must see!