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

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

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

Three still shots from the early short May Irwin Kiss.

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

The Great Train Robbery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

theaters Lecture Videos
notes Lecture Notes
assignment Written Assignments
co_present Instructor Insights