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Report 2009

Part One - THE EVOLUTION OF A WORLD

Part Two - CINEMA AND ITS RESOURCES

Part Third - ALL THE MARKETS OF THE FILM SECTOR

Part Fourth - PROTAGONISTS GREAT AND SMALL

APPENDICE

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» Report 2009
Part One - THE EVOLUTION OF A WORLD
CINEMA FOR EVERYONE
Chapter 1 - The Digital Challenge

«THE CULTURE INDUSTRY IS A SYSTEM. CULTURAL PRODUCTS HAVE A TECHNOLOGICAL CHARACTER AND ARE EXCLUSIVELY INSPIRED BY THE LOGIC OF THE MARKET»
Theodor W. Adorno (1903 - 1969), German philosopher, sociologist and composer

As a part of cultural heritage, the cinema has a double DNA, artistic and economic. However, in keeping with this image and attempting a definition of its genetic code, it would be necessary to state that the origins of cinema belong to the world of technology. This was implicitly acknowledged by the same Lumière brothers, Louis and Auguste, from the moment they first patented their filming and projecting equipment in 1895 with the statement - "The cinema is an invention without a tomorrow". Thomas A. Edison and Charles Pathé were indeed the first to acknowledge that such an invention would be capable of becoming an enormous event and to understand how to organize an entire industry from its productions thereby discovering the so-called missing link: such a technological innovation should not only be used for chronicling daily life but could also be used for reproducing and showing other worlds, other realities1.
This was first understood in Italy after 1910, even if, before that time the first films were nothing other than the recreation of theatrical or literary works which clearly showed the influence of the original authors. From 'La morte civile' which was presented with the names of the comedy writer Paolo Giacometti and starring Amleto Novelli to 'Nanà' "a film of 750 metres, by Zola"; from 'Il padrone delle ferriere' by George Ohnet to the numerous versions of 'La capanna dello zio Tom' ('Uncle Tom's Cabin') "by Harriet Beecher Stowe" up until 'Cabiria' attributed to the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, plus many others. This was also a method for giving artistic dignity to the new cinema2.
From the moment in which space was conceded for cinematic creativity, the productions of the film industry became an established art form, part of our cultural heritage, a unique and original prototype with strong intellectual components. It was, furthermore, from that moment that the cinema began to be a form of 'media' which transmits values and communicates meaning, the occasion for a 'good experience' of wide consumption in as much as it could be reproduced countless times.
However, in confirmation of its original genetic make-up it is technology which continues to signal the cinema's development. Following the release of the first bio -chromatic film of Kodak for Cecil B. DeMille's 'The Ten Commandments' in 1923 very few believed in the sytem developed by Herbert Kalmus of Technicolor which, ten years later, revealed itself to be fundamental in the passage to tri-chromatic film.
Even when sound was later introduced to Hollywood by Warner, the second great historical innovation consisting of the musical soundtrack to 'Don Juan' played by John Barrymore in 1926 and then, a year later, the dialogue and songs of Al Jolson in 'The Jazz Singer' by Alan Crosland, it was, nevertheless, maintained that nothing would change. A scene from 'Singin' in the Rain' by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan (1952) is recalled in a significant manner during a dialogue of two characters of the film director Douglas Fowley - "It is a find which will not last!" - and from the musician Donald O'Connor: "The same thing was said about the automobile".
Charles Chaplin also remained unconvinced: "Silent movies will survive because they represent the poetry of gestures". On the contrary, sound - as well as imposing a new standard of 24 frames per second in comparison to the previous 16 - did away with a whole generation of film makers and stars from silent movies. From 1941 onwards, following the success of stereophonic sounds in 'Fantasia' by Walt Disney technological innovation followed a constant rhythm, from Cinemascope up until the latest computer technology for the creation of special effects and new systems of production and digitalized projection, high-definition 3D, all assisted by satellite diffusion and the internet.

1A recurring theme in the publications dedicated to the history of cinema is the reference to the gradual loss of interest of the public following the initial enthusiasm for cinema at the Grand Café di Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. Within a short time it was relatively clear that the spectators at the time knew how trains arrived at their destination, how products and works came out from factories and the most effective methods for watering their gardens, and city traffic. Also the "inventions" and tricks of George Méliès, the first competitor to the Lumière brothers had a very positive influence following their initial success. One of the most fortunate in the United States was the imaginative fire-brigade captain George C. Hale from Kansas City who invented the so-called 'scenic tour' which was presented for the first time at the Exposition of St. Louis in 1904 and consisted of a series of panoramic views made in the most suggestive sites of America and Europe (the Niagara Falls, the Swiss Alps, the Tower of London, the Colosseum in Rome, the castles of Loira, the pyramids of Egypt and the camels of the Sahara were the films or rather documentaries most appreciated).
2One promising example is the work left behind in the form of memoirs by the film director Giovanni Pastrone, who was the first to put D'Annunzio onto the cinema screen: "I am proud today, at having renounced the entire paternity of 'Cabiria' - I was only thirty years old- in order to present D'Annunzio a film which I had made myself. At such an age it was unknown to renounce everything for glory".

 

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