Edison: The Invention of the Movies

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Overview

When inventor Thomas Edison and photographer Eadwaerd Muybridge got together in 1889 to hold a summit about the possibility of inventing a device that would ultimately lead to motion pictures, the two aimed high; they wanted to create a filmed record with synchronized sound of actor Edwin Booth in the role of Hamlet. Unfortunately, this was not to be; Booth died just as Edison was beginning to hold the first demonstrations of the device his employees had developed to fulfill this mission. Around the world, others...
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Overview

When inventor Thomas Edison and photographer Eadwaerd Muybridge got together in 1889 to hold a summit about the possibility of inventing a device that would ultimately lead to motion pictures, the two aimed high; they wanted to create a filmed record with synchronized sound of actor Edwin Booth in the role of Hamlet. Unfortunately, this was not to be; Booth died just as Edison was beginning to hold the first demonstrations of the device his employees had developed to fulfill this mission. Around the world, others were working on similar inventions, and the Lumière Brothers in France actually beat Edison to the first projection of motion pictures by four months. With so much competition and controversy about the origins of cinema, it is easy to forget the obvious -- that Thomas Edison and his laboratory really did invent motion pictures and were the first to exploit them in a commercial sense. The Kino four-DVD set Edison: The Invention of the Movies does far more than just jog the collective memory; it is the first single package of any kind to comprehensively collect and transmit an overview of the entire history of a major film studio, and it generously includes a jaw-dropping 148 titles. There has never been a DVD so packed with individual elements than the first disc of this set; it includes 89 individual film titles, and patient searching through the "film notes" section will reveal five more. Most of these films are very short -- the two-minute mark isn't exceeded until "Another Job for the Undertaker," a 1901 title that is the seventieth film in the collection. They range from the blurry, barely recognizable gesticulations in W.K.L. Dickson's first camera test, "Monkeyshines No. 1" (1890; arguably the first movie ever made) to a nifty, hand-colored print of that old chestnut, "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), the one Edison production many living persons have heretofore seen. The successive discs in the package escort us through Edison's work of the Nickelodeon period all the way up to the 1918 feature The Unbeliever, a striking film that portrays the battlefields of World War I from a religious perspective. Edison: The Invention of the Movies goes way beyond received wisdom about the Edison studio, revealing treasures drawn from the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, and the Henry Ford Museum collections that will strain the brains of even viewers who consider themselves experts in early film. Those who already have some prior exposure to the work of the Edison studio will be very happy to see films only previously seen in less than pristine visual quality, such as European Rest Cure (1904), The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903), or Rescued From an Eagle's Nest (1908). Beyond that, there are still mass quantities here of unknown films that have never seen the light of day. One may experience the rather uncomfortable sight of a man being tarred and feathered in The White Caps (1905), the bizarre Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901), or The Train Wreckers (1905), a film easily as influential as The Great Train Robbery but not nearly as well known. The print quality in all 148 cases is as good as it's ever likely to get, and the visual improvements made even in films that are in some way familiar are revelatory. Kino is equally generous with support materials and extra features as it is in the main program: Posters, news clippings, in-house Edison studio documents, and photographs are included alongside in-depth interviews with former MOMA curator Eileen Bowser, MOMA's present curator Steve Higgins, annotator and co-compiler Charles Musser, and several other knowledgeable contributors. The musical accompaniments are very good, with Phillip Carli and Jon Mirsalis' work being outstanding. In summary, no library that takes its film selection seriously should avoid acquiring Edison: The Invention of the Movies, and likewise students of film history will want to make this package a top priority.
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Special Features

Two hours of video interviews with archivists and cinema scholars, discussing specific films, the Edison Studios and efforts to preserve the Edison legacy: Steven Higgins, curator, department of film, the Museum of Modern Art; Charles Musser, professor of film and American studies, Yale University; Eilenn Bowser, curator emerita, the Museum of Modern Art; Paul Israel, director and editor of the Edison Papers, Rutgers University; Richard Koszarski, associate professor of English, Rutgers University; Patrick Loughney, head, Moving Image Section, the Library of Congress; Michele Wallace, professor of English, the City College; Photo archives of more than 200 documents from MOMA's Edison Collection; Detailed film notes by Charles Musser, the world's leading authority on the Edison studio
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/22/2005
  • UPC: 738329038328
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 69,174

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Thomas Alva Edison Primary Artist
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 1 - 1889-1903
1. Origins of the Edison Company cs. 1889 [:09]
2. [Monkeyshines, No. 1] [7:13]
3. [Monkeyshines, No. 2] [:36]
4. [Dickson Greeting] [:36]
5. [Newark Athlete (With Indian Clubs)] [:16]
6. [Men Boxing] [:14]
7. The Kinetograph [:21]
8. Blacksmithing Scene [1:09]
9. The Barber Shop [:43]
10. Paper Prints [:37]
11. Introduction to Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, January 7, 1894 [7:40]
12. Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, January 7, 1894 [:37]
13. Documenting Vaudville [:12]
14. [Athlete With Wand] [2:11]
15. The Art of Self-Promotion [:32]
16. Sandow [1:29]
17. Carmencita [:37]
18. Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton's) [:40]
19. Caicedo With Pole [:30]
20. Annabelle Butterfly Dance [:39]
21. Cockfight, No. 2 [:34]
22. Early Boxig Films [:33]
23. Corbet and Courtney Before the Kinetograph [4:24]
24. Introduction to Buffalo Bill Films [:54]
25. Sioux Ghost Dance [1:59]
26. Buffalo Dance [:33]
27. Hadj Cheriff [:32]
28. Glenroy Bors., [No. 2] [:31]
29. Louis Martinetti [:50]
30. Bucking Broncho [:31]
31. Annie Oakley [:33]
32. Imperial Japanese Dance [:33]
33. Robetta and Doretto, [No. 2] [:37]
34. Band Drill [:32]
35. Fire Rescue Scene [:30]
36. Billy Edwards and the Unknown [:32]
37. Introduction to Dickson Experimental Sound Film [:31]
38. Princess Ali [3:36]
39. Introduction to Annabelle Serpentine Dance [1:21]
40. Annabelle Serpentine Dance [:27]
41. The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots [:54]
42. Amy Muller [:30]
43. Introduction to the John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss [:27]
44. The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss [:29]
45. Going on Location [3:05]
46. Shooting the Chutes [:34]
47. Fatima, Muscle Dancer [2:23]
48. Mess Call [:38]
49. Introduction to Inventor Edison Sketched by World Artist [1:20]
50. Inventor Edison Sketched by World Artist [:50]
51. Watermelon Eating Contest [1:29]
52. The Lone Fisherman [1:41]
53. Interrupted Lovers [:34]
54. Feeding the Doves [:58]
55. A Morning Bath [:31]
56. The Burning Stable [:31]
57. Mounted Police Charge [:37]
58. Going to the Fire [:26]
59. A Morning Alarm [:34]
60. Introduction to Black Diamond Express, No. 1 [:34]
61. Black Diamond Express, No. 1 [:34]
62. American Falls From Above, American Side [3:25]
63. The First Sleigh Ride [:36]
64. The Morning Alarm [:32]
65. Fifth Avenue, New York [:33]
66. Introduction to Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory [1:21]
67. Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory [:46]
68. Return of Lifeboat [1:15]
69. Troop Ships for the Philippines [:36]
70. U.S. Troops Landing at Daiquiri, Cuba [:39]
71. Shooting Captured Insurgents [:48]
72. The Burglar on the Roof [:43]
73. Fireman Rescuing Men and Women [:40]
74. A Wringing Good Joke [:36]
75. [Gold Rush Scenes in the Klondike] [1:18]
76. Searching Ruins on Broadway for Dead Bodies, Galveston [:37]
77. The Kiss [1:02]
78. Capture of Boer Battery by British [:59]
79. New Black Diamond Express [:52]
80. Watermelon Contest [1:14]
81. A Storm at Sea [:43]
82. The New York Studio [2:19]
83. Old Maid Having Her Picture Taken [1:21]
84. Another Job for the Undertaker [1:24]
85. [High Diving Scene] [1:20]
86. Photographing a Country Couple [1:28]
87. What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City [:47]
88. Pan-American Exposition by Night [1:13]
89. Trapeze Disrobing Act [1:38]
90. The Burning of Durland's Riding Academy [1:03]
91. Burlesque Suicide, No. 2 [2:02]
92. Introduction to Jack and the Beanstalk [3:34]
93. Jack and the Beanstalk [1:10]
94. Interrupted Bathers [2:35]
95. Electrocuting an Elephant [10:24]
1. Introduction to Life of an American Fireman [:09]
2. Life of an American Fireman [:36]
3. Egyptian Fakir With Dancing Monkey [:36]
4. Introduction to Scrap in Black and White [:16]
5. Scrap in Black and White [:14]
6. Introduction to Uncle Tom's Cabin [:21]
7. Uncle Tom's CAbin [:43]
8. The Gay Shoe Clerk [:37]
9. Turning the Tables [:12]
10. What Happened in the Tunnel [:32]
11. Introduction to the Great Train Robbery [:37]
12. The Great Train Robbery [:40]
13. Rector's to Claremont [:30]
Side #2 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 2 - 1904-1907
1. The Edison Studio Moves to the Bronx [:09]
2. European Rest Cure [1:23]
3. How a French Nobleman got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns [:08]
4. Nervy Nat Kisses the Bride [13:19]
5. Scarecrow Pump [:08]
6. The Strenuous Life; or, Anti-Race Suicide [7:41]
7. Introduction to the Ex-Convict [:08]
8. The Ex-Convict [2:05]
9. Introduction to the Kleptomaniac [:08]
10. The Kleptomaniac [1:24]
11. The Seven Ages [:08]
12. Introduction to the Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog [5:13]
13. The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog [1:36]
14. Coney Island at Night [:08]
15. Introduction to the Little Train Robbery [9:40]
16. The Little Train Robbery [2:33]
17. Introduction to the White Caps [:08]
18. The White Caps [10:53]
19. Introduction to the Watermelon Patch [:08]
20. The Watermelon Patch [5:46]
21. The Miller's Daughter [:28]
22. The Train Wreckers [:08]
23. Introduction to Life of an American Policeman [5:37]
24. Life of an American Policeman [:08]
25. Police Chasing Scorching Auto [4:05]
26. Introduction to the Dream of a Rarebit Fiend [1:46]
27. The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend [:08]
3. Introduction to Three American Beauties [13:19]
4. Three American Beauties [:08]
5. Films of the San Francisco Earthquake [7:41]
6. The Terrible Kids [:08]
7. Kathleen Mavourneen [2:05]
8. Getting Evidence [:08]
9. Introduction to the "Teddy" Bears [1:24]
10. The "Teddy" Bears [:08]
Side #3 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 3 - 1907-1913
1. Introduction to Cohen's Fire Sale [:09]
2. Cohen's Fire Sale [1:52]
3. Introduction to the Rivals [:08]
4. The Rivals [13:18]
5. College Chums [:08]
6. The Trainer's Daughter [12:35]
7. Introduction to Laughing Gas [:08]
8. Laughing Gas [11:26]
9. A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus [:08]
10. A Suburbanite's Ingenious Alarm [13:06]
11. Introduction to Rescued From an Eagle's Nest [1:39]
12. Rescued From an Eagle's Nest [:08]
13. Fireside Reminiscences [8:54]
14. Introduction to Cupid's Pranks [:08]
15. Cupid's Pranks [13:58]
16. Tale the Autumn Leaves Told (Fragment) [:08]
17. The Decline of Edwin S. Porter [7:05]
18. The House of Cards [1:45]
19. New York of Today [:08]
20. Introduction to the FIlms of the 1910s [7:15]
21. How Bumptious Papered the Parlor [:08]
3. Thirty Days at Hard Labor [13:18]
4. The Passer-By [:08]
5. The Totville Eye [12:35]
6. The Public and Private Care of Infants [:08]
7. An Unsullied Shield [11:26]
8. Meeting of the Motion Picture Patents Company [:08]
Side #4 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 4 - 1913-1918
1. At Bear Track Gulch [:09]
2. The Ambassador's Daughter [:08]
3. A Serenade by Proxy [14:36]
4. All on Account of a Transfer [:08]
5. One Touch of Nature [14:47]
6. The Adventure of the Hasty Elopement [:08]
7. The Wonders of Magnetism [14:36]
8. Black Eyes [:08]
9. The Lone Game [11:11]
10. Introduction to the Unbeliever [:08]
11. The Unbeliever [16:26]
12. The Decline of the Edison Studios [:08]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 1 - 1889-1903
   Introduction
   Play Films and Interviews
   Play Films Only
   Program Notes
   Film Index
   Special Features
      About the DVD
      Supplemental Interviews
         About the Museum of Modern Art Edison Collection
         About the Library of Congress Paper Print Collection
         About the Thomas A. Edison Papers
         The Power of Patents
         MoMA's Rules of Restoration
         Philosophies of Film Preservation
      The Kinetophone
      Alphabetical Index of Films
      General Photo Gallery
      DVD-ROM Content
Side #2 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 2 - 1904-1907
   Introduction
   Play Films and Interviews
   Play Films Only
   Program Notes
   Film Index
Side #3 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 3 - 1907-1913
   Introduction
   Play Films and Interviews
   Play Films Only
   Program Notes
   Film Index
Side #4 -- Edison: The Invention of the Movies, Disc 4 - 1913-1918
   Introduction
   Play Films and Interviews
   Play Films Only
   Program Notes
   Film Index
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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Edison Made It All Possible: A Engaging Look At Early Movie History

    Where would Hollywood be without Mr. Edison? This DVD set offers a unique insight into the development of Edison's pioneering efforts in film making shortly before and around the turn of the last century. Edison's early works, beautifully restored and provided with detailed documentation and both interesting and scholarly commentary, take the viewer on a journey back to a time when film making first became an art and an industry. A valuable addition to any film collector's library and an important documentary that provides both the casual viewer and the serious student with hours of historically important insights, not just into the fledgling film industry, but also gives a unique perspective into the social fabric of the times. Well worth the price of admission. Two thumbs up!

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