Total Recall: Important Movie Firsts
To celebrate Barack Obama's inaguration, we've compiled a list of significant cinematic milestones.
Next week, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our nation's first African American president. Regardless of politics, few would argue that it's a profoundly important milestone in the history of this country, and with that in mind, we thought we'd compile a list of important movie firsts.
First feature-length film: The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)
Released in Australia on Boxing Day in 1906, The Story of the Kelly Gang was the first movie to break free from the confines of the short. This 60-plus-minute biopic of the legendary Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly billed itself as "The Most Sensational, The Most Thrilling and Interesting LIVING PICTURES EVER TAKEN," and it was an immediate lightning rod for controversy, as some authorities accused director Charles Tait of glorifying criminal behavior (some things never change). Only 17 minutes of the film survive today, and in 2006 Australia's National Film and Sound Archive restored what is left of the footage, much of which, including the climactic gunfight, remains compelling to this day.
First animated film: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)
J. Stuart Blackton's Humorous Phases of Funny Faces may not have been the first film to utilize animation to some degree (Blackton's own The Enchanted Drawing predates it by six years), but historians cite Faces as the original of the form as we know it today. In the three-minute short, a cartoonist draws some faces on a chalkboard, and the drawings subsequently come to life. The film utilized stop motion and other effects (the chalk lines were actually cutouts), but the film inspired others to possibilities of animation.