When a small handful of enthusiasts gathered at the first cinema show at the Grand Cafe in Paris on December 27, 1895, to celebrate early experimental film, they didn’t know that over the next century that their fascination would carve out its place in history as the “seventh art.” But how did it happen?
That’s just one of revelations in the our new favorite book, 100 Ideas that Changed Film. Written by Oxford Times film reviewer David Parkinson — who brought us 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design — the book offers a concise and intelligent chronicle of the most influential developments since the dawn of cinema.
From technologies like magic lanterns (#1), the kinetoscope (#3), and the handheld camera (#78), to genres like slapstick (#21), poetic realism (#50), and queer cinema (#97), to system-level developments like the star system (#23), film schools (#38), and censorship (#48), to cultural phenomena like fan magazines (#31), television (#63), and feminist film theory (#86), the book blends the illuminating factuality of an encyclopedia with the strong point of view of a museum curator to reveal, beneath this changing flow of technologies and techniques, cinema’s deeper capacity for playing on universal emotions and engaging our timeless longing for escapism, entertainment, and self-expression.
As Parkinson promises in the introduction, the book covers all aspects of film:
What follows is as much a chronology of business opportunism and technical pragmatism, as a a celebration of artistry, social commitment and showmanship.