21L.011 | Fall 2013 | Undergraduate
The Film Experience
Films & Readings

Public Domain Films

Films released in the United States before 1923 are now in the public domain. This page presents works by some of the early filmmakers covered in the first two weeks of the course.

Very Early Film

Galloping Race Horse

Four film stills of a horse running, showing that its legs are all off the ground in mid-stride.

Sequence of a race horse galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge, first published in 1887 at Philadelphia.

See the animation of this sequence, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Fred Ott’s Sneeze

Sequence of three film stills showing a man progressing through a sneeze.

Three still shots of Fred Ott sneezing in the 1894 motion picture Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, the first copyrighted film in history.

See the complete film, hosted by the Library of Congress.

The Kiss

Sequence of three film stills showing a man approaching, embracing and kissing a woman.

Three still shots from the early short May Irwin Kiss.

See the complete film, hosted by the Library of Congress.

The Great Train Robbery

Poster image for The Great Train Robbery, with a stopped steam locomotive and bandits with guns.

A contemporary poster advertising The Great Train Robbery. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Film still of a man pointing a gun at the viewer.

A still from The Great Train Robbery. When this part of the film was first shown, viewers used to run from the screen in fear, because the actor aiming a gun at the audience appeared so real to viewers unaccustomed to motion pictures. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

See the complete film, hosted by the Library of Congress.

D. W. Griffith

US 10 cent postage stamp with D.W. Griffith's head in profile and a drawing of a movie camera.

A stamp released by the U.S. Post Office to commemorate D. W. Griffith. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Birth of a Nation

View and download the complete film, hosted by Internet Archive.

Buster Keaton

One Week

View and download the complete film, hosted by Internet Archive.

The General

Film still of Buster Keaton sitting in a steam locomotive, facing the viewer.

A still shot showing Buster Keaton’s “great stone face” in The General. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Film still of Buster Keaton standing atop a steam locomotive.

Another still showing Keaton in The General. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

View and download the complete film, hosted by Internet Archive.

Steamboat Bill Jr.

View and download the complete film, hosted by Internet Archive.

The Balloonatic

View and download the complete film, hosted by Internet Archive.

Charlie Chaplin

Portrait photo of Charlie Chaplin wearing his signature bowler hat.

Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Film still of Charlie Chaplin, looking very similar to The Tramp character, with a ramp and crowd behind him.

Charlie Chaplin in his 1914 film debut Kid Auto Races in Venice. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Film still of Charlie Chaplin 'Tramp' character sitting in a doorway beside a young child.

Charlie Chaplin in a still from his 1921 film The Kid. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Selected Chaplin films

Easy Street (1917), hosted on YouTube.

By the Sea (1915), hosted on YouTube.

Work (1915), hosted on YouTube.

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Fall 2013
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theaters Lecture Videos
notes Lecture Notes
assignment Written Assignments
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