When it comes to film, we all know if it’s released, it’s likely to be seen. All around the world millions of people go and watch movies everyday, whether it be in their homes or in the theater.
Something people don’t always account for is how film itself has progressed over the years.
The Michigan Theater, located at 603 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, will host “Movies 201: A Short History of Film.” The series will be presented by Henry Aldridge, a recently retired professor of film studies who taught for 39 years at Eastern Michigan University, and costs $60.
This is the second installment of EMU’s film appreciation series, involving four Sunday sessions in January and February with lectures that will focus on cameras and projectors in the first session,
sound in the second, widescreen and 3-D in the third and digital filmmaking in the fourth.
On Jan. 20 at 1 p.m., Aldridge will speak about the 1890s, when the first workable cameras and projectors first surfaced, leading to the creation of early film studios and theaters. As he and the audience progress through the session they’ll talk about the five major studios that perfected efficient and glossy production styles of films.
The speech will also center on glamorous stars and idealized plots, showing early Thomas Edison, the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès shorts and finishing with a complete screening of Buster Keaton’s 1926 film, “The General.”
Aldridge will go in depth about sound in film in the second session at 1 p.m. Jan. 27. This will include the mid-1920s and how recorded sound transformed all of film production in this era and the ones to come. There will be an explanation of how sound in film ushered in “The Golden Age” of the studio system. There will be film excerpts from “forbidden” Hollywood films and Busby Berkeley musicals. The session will end with a screening of the 1938 film “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn.
In the third session on Feb. 10 at 1 p.m., Aldridge will cover Hollywood’s desperate attempt to regain audiences, and a history of 3-D films as well as the new film aspect ratios known as widescreen.
Aldridge will cover the change in aspect ratios from 4:3, 16:9, 2.40:1 and 4:1. Though 3-D is fairly new, it still has history and through this session there will be a further explanation of why Hollywood invested in 3-D films. There will be excerpts from the films “This is Cinerama,” “House of Wax,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “On the Waterfront.” The session will end with a complete screening of the 1954 film “River of No Return,” starring Marilyn Monroe.
On Feb. 17 at 1 p.m., the final day of the event, Aldridge will cover digital filmmaking. He will take the audience back to the 1980s, when film first began transforming once again with digital editing, sound synchronization and special effects.
Aldridge will go into the quick decrease of analog filmmaking and the transition into the digital age, explaining the radical change in new technology that broke open new areas of film that were usually less accessible through analog film. The day will end with excerpts from the films “The Deep,” “Avatar” and selected independent features. The final screening of the event will end with the 1993 Steven Spielberg film “Jurassic Park.”
Space for the program is limited. Students can call the director of programming, Amanda, at 734-668-8397, ext. 21, for more information.
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