Sample History Paper on History of Cinema

History of Cinema

Origins and World War II

The history of cinema commenced in the 1890s after the invention of motion picture cameras prompting film production companies to be established. Motion picture films had to be produced without sound due to limited technological advancements. The films had to be several minutes long with multiple shots and it was only after 1897 that special effects were introduced. Consequently, film continuity as well as movements from one sequence to another was used. Successive shots were achieved through continuity of action. Close-up shots were also introduced. Film stars also began to receive screen credits and recognition for their roles in acting and creating films. When the World War I began, challenging transitions were experienced in the film industry. For example, exhibition of films changed from one-reel programs to feature films (Bordwell, & Thompson, 2003).

World War II also affected the film industry as the Hollywood Film Industry had to support war-aims information campaigns. The Bureau of Motion Picture Affairs had to coordinate production of films with patriotic and moral themes. After the war ended, the American Film Industry was in an ideal position as producers and directors had utilized the opportunity to create entertainment and commercial programs and features began promoting the ‘American Way of Life.’ Consequently, film markets including in Japan and Europe opened up or enlarged. The film industry experienced some of its most lucrative years during World War II and after the war ended; the industry was weakened due to lost protectionist quotas coupled with inflation and labor unrest that increased domestic production costs rendering foreign markets unfeasible (Bordwell, & Thompson, 2003).

Post World War II until the 1980s

In 1948, the film industry was severely weakened after a federal antitrust suit was filed against five major and three minor studios. The suit ended after the studios were forced to separate their theatre chains for the first time in 30 years. Hollywood faced its first competition as it had to offer consumers movies to watch in the comfort of their homes. The studios, however, continued to create and produce films while facing financial challenges. This prompted them to produce realistic, low-budget, and small-scale films that were socially conscious as they focused on issues such as alcoholism and the postwar life. Their efforts, however, did not hinder the number of audiences watching films as movie-goers continued to increase. In the 1980s, the industry pursued the venture of selling and renting films on home videos to earn additional revenues. Although film producers acknowledged that it violated copyrights, they had to pursue it to earn additional revenue (Bordwell, & Thompson, 2003).

From 1990s to Present Day

In the 1990s, cinema attendance at Multi-Screen Cineplex complexes increased. Film production costs had to be limited, averaging between $53 million and $100 million. Box-office revenues also continued to decline due to the American economic recession of 1991. Although they improved after 1993, an imbalance existed as commercial and critical films independently produced had to compete with Hollywood films. Film actors have also been demanding high payments despite production companies incurring high costs of producing and distributing quality contents. (Dirks, 2017).

Technological advances have also increased the rate at which audiences access, download, and enjoy a film without the producers earning their rightful revenues while infringing copyrights. Currently, film makers are still pushing for digital imagery and special effects with sharp resolution pictures. (Dirks, 2017).



Bordwell, D., & Thompson, K. (2003). Film History an Introduction. New York, McGraw-Hill Company Inc.

Dirks, T. (2017). The History of Film: The 1990s. American Movie Classics Company, AMC Filmsite.