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June 1994


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James P Castonguay <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Jun 1994 12:55:20 -0500
text/plain (24 lines)
Just a note on Griffith's "place" in the history of film style.  In Bordwell
and Thompson's _Film History: An Introduction_ (published this year) they
have a section under the "Notes and Queries" after their discussion of the
cinema from 1905-12 titled "Griffith's Importance in the Development of
Film Style."  They write:
If this book had been written several years earlier, this chapter's
discussion of changing film style would probably have dealt primarily with
D.W. Griffith.  Griffith himself helped to create the myth that he had
"invented" virtually every important technique for film storytelling.  In
late 1913, just after he had left American Biograph, he ran a newspaper
advertisement claiming to have created the close-up, intercutting,
fade-outs, and restrained acting.  Early historians, unable to see many
films from the pre-1913 period, took him at his word, and Griffith became
the "father" of the cinema.
        More recent research. . .has brought many other films to light, and
historians have realized that numerous filmmakers were simultaneously
exploring similar techniques.  Griffith's importance has come to be seen in
terms of his ability to combine these techniques in daring ways ways. . ..
Most historians now agree that Griffith's imagination, ambition, and skill
made him the foremost American filmmaker of this era. (51)