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Last updated: 10/04/07

What's New
Lobby Display:
In the Silence and Shadows -- The Silent Film Era

Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton in the film Sherlock, Jr., 1924.

This display highlights the silent film era and the development of invention, cinematography, industry, exhibition, genre and film players of early film history. The silent film era, generally dated between 1895 and 1929, introduced new technological and artistic mediums which highlighted the sweeping changes of society and culture during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Influences of early films came from pre-existing media. Motion picture technology originated from the camera, projection from magic lantern slides, and artistic expressions from vaudeville and theatre. The motion pictures of this era impacted popular culture and perception, such as the notion of speed and movement beyond one’s personal experience. This era also established brand new industries, such as theatre chains and production companies, and finally, the foundations for Hollywood.

Today, silent films can be appreciated both technologically and artistically as a separate and completely different medium for cinema and entertainment. The artistic approaches and utilization of different film technology offers today’s viewer a unique experience.

By Elisa Parello Jepson, Reference Librarian

University of Rhode Island Libraries

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