By Julie Hubbert
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Additional info for Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History
The development of fi lm between 1896 and 1926 was attended by great variety and experimentation. Within a short period of time, fi lm had developed a broad range of genres and styles—from newsreels to narrative masterpieces, commercial advertisements to scenic travelogues, serious educational fi lms to silly cartoons, low comedies to high drama, surreal montages to moralizing melodramas, magical tricks to unadorned realism, as well as a range of temporal lengths, from ninety-second actualités to fifteen-reel historical epics.
A few other matters of note in Riesenfeld’s essay not only reflect the state of the mature compilation score, but describe the state of new music in the late 1920s as well. The author’s passing reference to jazz—“for the time being jazz predominates in our fi lm theatres”—reflects both the country’s general obsession with the new style of popular music and the widespread view that jazz was not an artistic form of music. For Riesenfeld, jazz was not only of lesser quality, but also ephemeral. ” He leaves little room for guessing at what “better” still means to compilers and accompanists, noting that “a jazz selection is old and discarded in a single season.
2. For a good general history of both the cinématographe and the Lumière brothers’ participation in the evolution of the early French cinema, see Roy Armes, French Cinema (London: Secker & Warburg, 1985), pp. 7–18; and also Richard Abel, The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 9–19. 3. Ceram, Archeology of the Cinema, pl. 224. 4. The Lumières saw their actualités primarily as advertisement for the photographic equipment—fi lm, cameras, projection devices—they manufactured and sold.