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During the mids, he also made some major features.
They were notable for their beautiful cinematography, including skillful location filming and an unusual use of backlighting. Perret also varied his camera angles considerably and broke scenes down into more shots than was then typical. His main achievements, however, were in the new serial format. Until recently, it has been customary to use the war to explain the decline of the French vis-a-vis the American cinema industry. Although there is some truth to that claim, the French position had been weakening before the war began.
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By the end of , in both numbers of film titles and total footage in distribution, the French were losing ground to the Americans on their own home territory. The war simply accelerated a process already well under way, and its most devastating effect, other than cutting off production, was severely to restrict the export market on which the French companies so heavily depended for distributing their films". French intellectuals and the general public alike adored the new American stars they discovered during the war: Hart, and Lillian Gish.
Writer Philippe Soupault suggests how suddenly and intensely American films affected Parisian viewers: Then one day we saw hanging on the walls great posters as long as serpents. At every street-corner a man, his face covered with a red handkerchief, leveled a revolver at the peaceful passersby. We imagined that we heard galloping hoofs, the roar of motors, explosions, and cries of death. We rushed into the cinema, and realized immediately that everything had changed.
On the screen appeared the smile of Pearl White - that almost ferocious smile which announced the revolution, the beginning of a new world. It was, however, no longer providing a stable leadership for French film production.
During , American films passed the percent mark in French exhibition. Eventually, the company reorganized into smaller components, the most important devoted to processing film stock and manufacturing camera equipment. The French films available to spectators between and were somewhat different from before.
Perhaps because it was now difficult for the French to laugh at themselves, at least as they had been accustomed to, the once prolific comic series almost disappeared. There, Feuillade turned out one twelve-episode film per year, returning to the crime serial in Les vampires The Vampires, , then shifting to focus on a detective hero played by Rene Creste in Judex and La nouvelle mission de Judex The New Mission of Judex, Otherwise, patriotic melodramas were de rigueur, at least for the first two years of the war.
Through unusual lighting, framing, and editing strategies, Mater Dolorosa seemed to revolutionize the stylistic conventions of the domestic melodrama, perhaps most notably in the way everyday objects, such as a white window curtain or a fallen black veil, took on added significance through singular framing or magnification and associational editing.
Both kinds of melodrama would provide the basis for some of the best French films after the war". Spectacle and Melodrama "Italian cinema flourished in the first half of the teens.
The success of exported films and the establishment of the feature film attracted talented people to the industry and led producing companies to compete energetically. Historical epics continued to have the most significant triumphs abroad.
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Pastrone, a gifted but reclusive figure, was the first producer to grasp the need for a sound managerial attitude to film production. Unlike other producers of the time, his background was modest: He tried out new technical possibilities, such as a camera for amateurs designed to shoot four separate films using a single length of 35 mm.
He reorganized his company in with the adoption of a rigorous and efficient set of internal regulations, written out in detail and distributed to all employees. All these elements created for Pastrone the opportunity to develop and extend formal and expressive fields of research". However, beyond its literary echoes and its weighty architectural apparatus, Cabiria offers stylistic and technological solutions which make it a pioneering, avant-garde work.
Above all, it repeatedly uses long tracking shots which move across the scene. From a popular spectacle, designed in large part for working-class audiences, cinema became a middle-class form of entertainment. One effect of this new situation, as in all the other major film-making countries, was the decline of the documentary and the comic short, which from this moment on became mere programme-fillers.
The outbreak of the First World War and the growing power of American cinema in the European market put an abrupt end to dreams of expansion of the Italian industry.
The heavy commitment to the war effort required of the weak national economy diverted energies from other activities, and this draining of resources would only get worse in the aftermath of the disastrous defeat by the Austrians at Caporetto in A substantial part of the films which were made were dedicated to the theme of war, thus producing a brief resurgence of the documentary genre. Propaganda efforts even extended into comedy.
Unlike in France, however,ltalian cinema was wholly unprepared for the demands thrown up by this new situation. The geographical and financial dispersal of production centres , the lack of any co-ordinated exhibition circuit.
They typically starred in what are sometimes known as frock-coat films-stories of passion and intrigue in upper-middle-class and aristocratic settings. The diva films played up luxurious settings, fashionable costumes, and the heightened acting of the performers". Love Everlasting, , by Mario Caserini, was the signal forerunner of the genre, with its simplified and exaggerated appropriation of symbolism and decadentism.
In the following decade, its influence was felt throughout Italian society. Lyda Borelli, the diva par excellence, set the standard of a style based more on the charismatic presence of the actress than on any technical or aesthetic qualities of the production.
In her films the expressivity of the body was assigned a determining role. The characters played by Borelli - and by other divas such as Maria Carmi, Rina De liguoro, Maria Jacobini, Soava Gallone, Helena Makowska, Hesperia, Italia Almirante Manzini - are sensual, tormented figures, caught between frail melancholia and anxiety, expressed through mannered poses. They live in luxuriant and at times oppressively opulent surroundings, where excited glances and sharp movements mirror the excess of the costumes and scenery".
Bertini went on to make a series of more luxurious films based on her star persona". The characters of Ursus in Quo Vadis?
Maciste was played by a muscular dockworker, Bartolomeo Pagano. His character so fascinated audiences that Pagano went on to star in a series of Maciste films that lasted into the s.
Unlike Cabiria, these and other strongman films were set in the present rather than the historical past. This genre declined temporarily after , as Italian filmmaking sank into crisis.
The peplum film, or the heroic historical epic, often involving brawny heroes, resurfaced decades later with such films as Hercules After the war, Italy tried to regain its place on world markets but could not make inroads against American films. Competition from America "In England, the key film genres rapidly codified themselves into the colonial romance, parody films, melodramas, and domestic comedies. Almost coincident with the shift to multireel films as the industrial norm was the emergence of a star system in America.
This was not the case in Britain, where even in the s the only actresses who could be called British film stars were Chrissie White and Alma Taylor particularly through their work with Hepworth and Betty Balfour. Stars in general and male film stars in particular were significantly lacking, in a period when they were so central to the rise to dominance of the American film.
Despite the low esteem in which most British film productions were held, particularly in the international market-place, optimism remained high in the immediate post-war years in the British trade press, though the idea of a protection system, for example by the imposition of import quotas, was beginning to gain ground. But it was not only American distribution practices and lack of capitalization or a star system which hampered the potential success of the British film.
At a time when American films were clearly beginning to exhibit the dynamic traits associated with continuity editing, British films were often marked by narrational uncertainty and the inability to construct a unified spatio-temporal narrative logic the hallmarks of what we now call the classical Hollywood style.
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Thus it was not only under-capitalization, or the lack of a star system, but also aspects of film form that made British films so uncompetitive with those of the United States. Its films were not widely exported, and imports dominated its domestic market. The cinema also had a low reputation in Germany.
During the early s, reformers and censors attacked film as immoral. Theatrical and arts journals portrayed it as a lowbrow form of entertainment, primarily because competition from films had caused theater attendance to decline.
In May , organizations of playwrights, directors, and actors went so far as to boycott the cinema. By late , however, the boycott was broken, as film producers competed to sign those same playwrights, directors, and actors to exclusive contracts.
Similarly, film firms sought to adapt prestigious literary works and to have established authors write original screenplays. The term author did not mean then what auteur means today - the director of the film. Rather, the Autorenfilm was publicized largely on the basis of a famous writer who had written the script or the original literary work from which the film was adapted. The director of the film was seldom mentioned. Similarly, stage stars were hired and featured prominently in the publicity for such films".
Der Andere was reviewed favorably by theater journals. The Student of Prague is a Faust-like story of a student who gives his mirror image to a demonic character in exchange for wealth. The image dogs the hero and finally provokes a fatal duel. Aided by the great cameraman Guido Seeber, Rye and Wegener used special effects to create scenes of the student and his double confronting each other.
The fantasy elements of this film would become a prominent trait of German cinema, culminating in the German Expressionist movement of the s.
The Autorenfilm lent respectability to the cinema, but most of the films were not successful with the public, and the notion of basing films on works by famous authors declined during During the same period, however, the German industry was expanding.
Domestic films were gaining popular success, largely due to the rise of the star system. Two very different female stars became widely known. The blonde Henny Porten was the ideal of German womanhood. Her films were soon export successes, and she was on the verge of becoming internationally famous as the war began.
Her worldwide fame would finally come during the s. The Danish actress Asta Nielsen had quickly caught on in Germany after moving there in and she had a great influence on acting styles in other countries. During the early years of the war, Germany continued to import films, especially from Denmark. Officials soon concluded, however, that the anti-German content of some of these films was hurting the war effort. In , Germany banned film imports".
But there were also winners for whom the confiscation of property from the foreign firms operating in Germany, and the soaring demands for films, signalled a unique opportunity. A new generation of producers and producer-directors made their breakthrough, after the government had lifted the initial ban on cinema-going.
To give an indication of the scale on which the German film industry expanded during the war: The quality of German films from the war years has rarely been assessed impartially. Some featuring the war, and often dismissed as patriotic propaganda films or fieldgrey kitsch, turn out to be major surprises.