The history of world cinema spans more than 100 years from the mid 19th century to the present day. No other art form has undergone such rapid development in such a short period of time. Cinema has since evolved into a highly developed medium that communicates, educates, and entertains audiences around the world. Cinema has substantially affected popular culture, social development, the arts, technology, and politics.
The idea of creating motion pictures developed from experiments conducted by photographers and scientists in the 19th century. However, the concept of projecting images onto screens is much older. The medieval camera obscura is considered a precursor to modern cinema technology. The camera obscura inverts light through a small hole or lens and projects this light onto a screen. This method creates a projected moving image, but the image cannot be recorded or preserved.
The first known recorded celluloid film was “Roundhay Garden Scene”, which was filmed by Louis Le Prince on October 14th 1888. It was recorded at 12 frames per second and runs for approximately two seconds. Inventors quickly realized that recording imagery with a camera was feasible, but a better camera had to be developed.
The first truly successful apparatus was the Kinetograph, which was patented in 1891, under the direction of the inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Edison Laboratories is also credited with creating the first celluloid strips.
Soon, simple vaudeville shows and music hall performances were being filmed and shown to the public. A significant number of these classic film sequences can be seen on sites that offer free streaming movies online. These early film sequences were projected in kinetoscope parlors, which spread all over the western world. Charles Francis Jenkins is credited with creating the first film projector.
At the same time, the Lumière brothers invented the cinematograph, which was an improved version of earlier camera and projector prototypes. This paved the way for the first ambitious films that encompassed storylines, histrionics, and numerous set changes. An outstanding masterpiece from this period is “A Trip to the Moon”, directed by Georges Méliès, which can be seen on many sites that offer free streaming movies online.