Alphaville Videoteca

Edison: The Invention of the Movies (1891-1918)

EE.UU.. Cortometraje/Drama/Fantasía. 730 minutos
Título Original: Edison: The Invention of the Movies
Director: W. K. L. Dickson, William Heise, Edwin S. Porter, otros
Intérpretes: Thomas A. Edison, Charles Musser
Formato: DVD  [4 discos] Calidad: DVD
Idioma: Silente   Subtítulos: Inglés


Edison - The Invention of the Movies is a four-disc treasure trove of 140 of the first moving pictures ever seen, spanning the birth of cinema from 1891-1918. The collaboration between Kino Video and the Museum of Modern Art includes 14-second-long camera tests, early special effects, street scenes, humorous shorts, and "The Great Train Robbery," widely considered the world's first blockbuster. Arranged chronologically, the films gradually improve in technical sophistication and narrative complexity while providing riveting glimpses of American culture 100 years ago. Highlights include the slyly edited "The Gay Shoe Clerk," the phantasmagoric "Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend," and a film of social justice called "The Kleptomaniac." Contemporary sensibilities will be challenged by persistent racial stereotypes in a number of the films, as well as by a horrific short showing the electrocution of an elephant. The educational possibilities represented in this set are vast.


The films in this collection are presented in chronological order, allowing the viewer to follow the progression of Edison filmmaking over a 28-year period. We provide credits and program notes for each film, but groups of films are also introduced by some more general comments about filmmaking activities at Edison and in the industry more broadly. These usually cover several years at a time (e.g. 1890-1891, 1894-1895). Given the number of titles in this collection, the program notes for each film are inevitably brief, and the credits are by no means exhaustive. In the early years, films were offered for sale under variant titles and, where appropriate, we have listed them. In some cases, a film was never assigned a formal title at the time of production, and so, for purposes of identification, we have provided a title in brackets.

Users of this DVD set may view just the films, or they can also look at additional photographic, manuscript and printed materials relating to particular films. Most such materials come from the special collections of The Museum of Modern Art, but some also come from materials gathered by Charles Musser from a variety of sources (The Edison National Historic Site, New York Public Library, and various flea markets). Moreover, a variety of interviews were conducted with experts on Thomas Edison, Edison films and American culture in general over this 30 year period (1888-1918).

The program notes generally avoid plot descriptions and evaluative criticism from a present day perspective. Rather, the commentary is meant to reprint period criticism, provide information about the performers, note sources‹all in an effort to contextualize the films and enrich the viewing experience for today's audiences.

Key to contributing archives or collections:

MoMA = The Museum of Modern Art (New York)
LoC=Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)
ENHS =Edison National Historic Site (West Orange, New Jersey)
CNC= Archives du Film, Centre Nationale du Cinéma (Bois d'Arcy, France)
AFI=The American Film Institute (Washington, D.C.)