Films before the 1920s.
See also: Films of the 1920s
Early Films (pre-1910)
- 1893-1895 — William K.L. Dickson, working at Thomas Edison's studio, shot Blacksmith Scene, Fred Ott's Sneeze, Carmencita, The Great Sandow, and others — The first commercial movies ever. Dickson Experimental Sound Film, the first sound picture, and The Execution of Mary Stuart, the first cinematic special effects, were also produced at the studio. In 1897, it introduced the world to the first pornographic movie with The Dolorita Passion Dance or Dolorita in the Passion Dance. The film was removed from Atlantic City Kinetoscope parlors in 1895, this being perhaps the first instance of film censorship.
- 1895-1896 — The Lumière brothers shot movies, including The Sprinkler Sprinkled, Employees Leaving the Factory, and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, establishing tropes such as the Practical Joke, Faux Documentary, and cinematic narrative in general.
- 1898-1905 — Georges Méliès shot pioneering movies, establishing many kinds of visual effects (such as the stop edit, the dissolve and the double exposure techniques) and the first filmed examples of genres such as Science Fiction and Fantasy:
- 1903 — Edwin Porter directed The Great Train Robbery (video link) at Edison's studio.
- 1906 — The first ever feature-length film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, in 1906, "feature-length" meant about forty-five minutes long, which was still many times longer than any other film made at that point. (Interestingly, The Story of the Kelly Gang was originally planned as a short film, but its runtime ballooned out as the film-makers kept adding more and more footage.)
- 1908-1914 — D.W. Griffith directed lots of short films, inventing and/or popularizing more Camera Tricks and other film tropes, such as:
- 1909 — Princess Nicotine; or, the Smoke Fairy, a trippy little short in which a smoker finds two fairies hidden in his tobacco kit
- 1915-1919: Charlie Chaplin goes into business for himself, producing and starring in a series of pioneering Slapstick comedies at Essenay, Mutual, and First National studios, including:
- The Birth of a Nation — The movie that invented the feature film as we know it. Values Dissonance to the max today, but the first blockbuster hit at the time.
- The Cheat
- Fatty's Tintype Tangle
- Les Vampires — A crime serial in 10 parts that ran into 1916. Featured criminal gang the Vampires and a Journalist and his friend trying to stop them. One of the longest films ever made, running to over 6 and a half hours.
- Intolerance — D.W. Griffith's epic follow-up to The Birth of a Nation. As advanced for its time as was Birth of a Nation; made to answer cries of racism that were already being thrown at Griffith, it was as big a flop as Birth was a hit.
- The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish, a deeply weird Sherlock Holmes parody that doubles as the most pro-cocaine film ever made
- Anders als die Andern ("Different from the Others"), notable as the first film to argue for tolerance of homosexuality.
- Broken Blossoms — The most sympathetic portrayal of Asians for decades (despite the Yellowface), and probably D. W. Griffith's triumph as a director of actors (and with a disturbing story to boot).
- The Master Mystery
- The Secret Garden — Starring Lila Lee.
- The Sentimental Bloke — Australian classic, recently re-mastered and available on DVD.