Feature film

Last updated

A feature film or feature-length film is a narrative film (motion picture or "movie") with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment program. The term feature film originally referred to the main, full-length film in a cinema program that included a short film and often a newsreel. Matinee programs, especially in the US and Canada, in general, also included cartoons, at least one weekly serial and, typically, a second feature-length film on weekends.

Contents

The first narrative feature film was the 60-minute The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906, Australia). [1] Other early feature films include Les Misérables (1909, U.S.), L'Inferno , Defence of Sevastopol (1911), Oliver Twist (American version), Oliver Twist (British version), Richard III , From the Manger to the Cross , Cleopatra (1912), Quo Vadis? (1913), Cabiria (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915).

Description

The notion of how long a feature film should be has varied according to time and place. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, [2] [3] the American Film Institute [4] and the British Film Institute, [5] a feature film runs for more than 40 minutes, while the Screen Actors Guild asserts that a feature's running time is 60 minutes or longer. [6] [7] The Centre National de la Cinématographie in France defines it as a 35 mm film longer than 1,600 metres (5,200 ft), which is exactly 58 minutes and 29 seconds for sound films [ citation needed ].

History

Actor playing the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly in The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), the world's first dramatic feature-length film. The Story of the Kelly Gang 1906.jpg
Actor playing the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly in The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), the world's first dramatic feature-length film.

The term feature film came into use to refer to the main film presented in a cinema and the one which was promoted or advertised. The term was used to distinguish the longer film from the short films (referred to as shorts) typically presented before the main film, such as newsreels, serials, animated cartoons, live-action comedies and documentaries. There was no sudden increase in the running times of films to the present-day definitions of feature-length; the "featured" film on a film program in the early 1910s gradually expanded from two to three to four reels. Early features had been produced in the United States and France, but were released in individual (short film) scenes. This left exhibitors the option of playing them alone, to view an incomplete combination of some films, or to run them all together as a short film series.

Early features were mostly documentary-style films of noteworthy events. Some of the earliest feature-length productions were films of boxing matches, such as The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (1897), [8] Reproduction of the Corbett-Jeffries Fight and The Jeffries-Sharkey Fight (1899). Some consider the 100-minute The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight to be the first documentary feature film, but it is more accurately characterized as a sports program as it included the full unedited boxing match. In 1900, the documentary film Army Life was produced by Robert Paul. It was a programme of 33 short films, with a total running time of around 75 minutes, following the training of British soldiers. [9] Inauguration of the Australian Commonwealth (1901) ran for 35 minutes, "six times longer than any previous Australian film", [10] and has been called "possibly the first feature-length documentary made in Australia". [11] American company S. Lubin released a Passion Play titled Lubin's Passion Play in January 1903 in 31 parts, totaling about 60 minutes. [12] The French company Pathé Frères released a different Passion Play in May 1903, The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ , in 32 parts, totaling 44 minutes.

Defined by length, the first dramatic feature film was the Australian 60-minute film The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906). [13] Similarly, the first European feature was the 90-minute film L'Enfant prodigue (France, 1907), although that was an unmodified record of a stage play; Europe's first feature adapted directly for the screen, Les Misérables [ better source needed ], came from France in 1909. [13] The first Russian feature was Defence of Sevastopol in 1911. [14] Early Italian features included L'Inferno (1911), Quo Vadis? , The Last Days of Pompeii (1913) and Cabiria (1914). The first UK features were the documentary With Our King and Queen Through India (1912), filmed in Kinemacolor [15] and Oliver Twist (also 1912). [13] The first American features were Oliver Twist , From the Manger to the Cross , Cleopatra and Richard III (all 1912). Actor Frederick Warde starred in some of these adaptations. [16] The first Asian feature was Japan's The Life Story of Tasuke Shiobara (1912), [17] the first Indian feature was Raja Harishchandra (1913), [18] China's first feature film was Zhang Shichuan's Nan Fu Nan Qi (1913), the first South American feature was Brazil's O Crime dos Banhados (1913), [17] and the first African feature was South Africa's Die Voortrekkers (1916). [17]

By 1915, over 600 feature films were produced annually in the United States. [19] It is often incorrectly cited that The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the first American feature film. [20] The most prolific year of U.S. feature production was 1921, with 682 releases; the lowest number of releases was in 1963, with 213. [19] Between 1922 and 1970, the U.S. and Japan alternated as leaders in the quantity of feature film production. Since 1971, the country with the highest feature output has been India, [21] which produces a thousand films in more than twelve Indian languages each year. [22]

Technological developments

A poster for The Jazz Singer (1927) the first feature film to use recorded sound. The Jazz Singer 1927 Poster.jpg
A poster for The Jazz Singer (1927) the first feature film to use recorded sound.

In 1927, Warner Bros. released the first feature-length film with sound, The Jazz Singer , whose audio track was recorded with a proprietary technology called Vitaphone. [23] The film's success persuaded other studios to go to the considerable expense of adding microphones to their sets, and scramble to start producing their own "talkies". [24]

One of the next major advancements made in movie production was color film. Even before color was a possibility in movies, early film makers were interested in how color could enhance their stories. [25] Early techniques included hand tinting: painting each frame by hand. [25] Cheaper and more widely used was toning: dying the film in a single color, used in many films in the 1920s. [25] The film processing lab Technicolor developed the Three-Tone coloring technique that became the standard for color film. It was a complex, time consuming, and expensive process that many movie studios were not eager to try. [26] One of the early adopters of the three-strip process was Disney. Some of the most notable films Technicolor processed with three-strip were The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind . [25]

Digital Video (or DV) has quickly changed how most films are made. [27] First used to create special effects and animated movies, digital cameras became more common on film sets in the late 1990s. In 2002, George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones became the first major studio film shot primarily on digital video. [28] The ability to instantly play back footage and quickly transfer footage to computers for editing helped to speed up post-production time. [27] Digital film making was given a big boost in 2005 when the Digital Cinema Initiative created a guide for manufacturers to create a universal standard, to make the technologies more compatible with each other and more user friendly. [27] [29] Shooting movies on digital also led to new technologies for distributing films. Titan A.E. , released in 2000, was the first feature film to be released for viewing over the internet. [29] Digital distribution changed the ways people received and watched media. It also gave viewers access to huge amounts of online content on demand. [30]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digital cinema</span> Use of digital projectors and computer storage devices in cinemas

Digital cinema refers to adoption of digital technology within the film industry to distribute or project motion pictures as opposed to the historical use of reels of motion picture film, such as 35 mm film. Whereas film reels have to be shipped to movie theaters, a digital movie can be distributed to cinemas in a number of ways: over the Internet or dedicated satellite links, or by sending hard drives or optical discs such as Blu-ray discs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Silent film</span> Film with no synchronized recorded dialogue

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound. Though silent films convey narrative and emotion visually, various plot elements or key lines of dialogue may, when necessary, be conveyed by the use of title cards.

<i>The Hollywood Revue</i> 1929 film

The Hollywood Revue of 1929, or simply The Hollywood Revue, is a 1929 American pre-Code musical comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was the studio's second feature-length musical, and one of their earliest sound films. Produced by Harry Rapf and Irving Thalberg and directed by Charles Reisner, it features nearly all of MGM's stars in a two-hour revue that includes three segments in Technicolor. The masters of ceremonies are Conrad Nagel and Jack Benny.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">35 mm movie film</span> Motion picture film gauge, the standard

35 mm film is a film gauge used in filmmaking, and the film standard. In motion pictures that record on film, 35 mm is the most commonly used gauge. The name of the gauge is not a direct measurement, and refers to the nominal width of the 35 mm format photographic film, which consists of strips 1.377 ± 0.001 inches (34.976 ± 0.025 mm) wide. The standard image exposure length on 35 mm for movies is four perforations per frame along both edges, which results in 16 frames per foot of film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sound film</span> A motion picture with synchronized sound

A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures became commercially practical. Reliable synchronization was difficult to achieve with the early sound-on-disc systems, and amplification and recording quality were also inadequate. Innovations in sound-on-film led to the first commercial screening of short motion pictures using the technology, which took place in 1923.

Digital intermediate (DI) is a motion picture finishing process which classically involves digitizing a motion picture and manipulating the color and other image characteristics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biograph Company</span> Defunct American film studio

The Biograph Company, also known as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, was a motion picture company founded in 1895 and active until 1916. It was the first company in the United States devoted entirely to film production and exhibition, and for two decades was one of the most prolific, releasing over 3000 short films and 12 feature films. During the height of silent film as a medium, Biograph was America's most prominent film studio and one of the most respected and influential studios worldwide, only rivaled by Germany's UFA, Sweden's Svensk Filmindustri and France's Pathé. The company was home to pioneering director D. W. Griffith and such actors as Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, and Lionel Barrymore.

<i>The Gulf Between</i> 1917 film directed by Wray Physioc

The Gulf Between is a 1917 American comedy-drama film that was the first motion picture made in Technicolor, the fourth feature-length color film, and the first feature-length color film produced in the United States. The film was destroyed in a fire on 25 March 1961. Today, the film is considered a lost film, with only very short fragments known to survive. These fragments are in the collections of the Margaret Herrick Library, George Eastman House Motion Picture Collection, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Photographic History Collection.

<i>Mystery of the Wax Museum</i> 1933 film by Michael Curtiz

Mystery of the Wax Museum is a 1933 American pre-Code mystery-horror film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, and Frank McHugh. It was produced and released by Warner Bros. and filmed in two-color Technicolor; Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum were the last two dramatic fiction films made using this process.

<i>The Viking</i> (1928 film) 1928 film by Roy William Neill

The Viking is a 1928 American drama film. It was the first feature-length Technicolor film that featured a soundtrack, and it was the first film made in Technicolor's Process 3. It stars Pauline Starke, Donald Crisp, and LeRoy Mason. The film is loosely based on the 1902 novel The Thrall of Leif the Lucky by Ottilie A. Liljencrantz. The Viking was directed by Roy William Neill.

<i>LEnfant prodigue</i> (1907 film) 1907 French film

L'Enfant prodigue was the first feature-length motion picture produced in Europe, running 90 minutes. Directed by Michel Carré, from his own three-act stage pantomime, The Prodigal Son. The film was basically an unmodified filmed record of his play. Filmed at the Gaumont Film Company studios in May 1907.

<i>Gold Diggers of Broadway</i> Partially lost 1929 pre-Code American musical film

Gold Diggers of Broadway is a 1929 American pre-Code musical comedy film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Winnie Lightner and Nick Lucas. Distributed by Warner Bros., the film is the second all-talking, all-Technicolor feature-length film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Color motion picture film</span> Photographic film type

Color motion picture film refers both to unexposed color photographic film in a format suitable for use in a motion picture camera, and to finished motion picture film, ready for use in a projector, which bears images in color.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Film</span> Visual art consisting of moving images

A film – also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick – is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These images are generally accompanied by sound and, more rarely, other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cinema of Haiti</span> Filmmaking in Haiti

The historiography of Haitian cinema is very limited. It consists only one double issue of the journal of the French Institute of Haiti Conjonction, released in 1983, devoted to film; a book by Arnold Antonin, published during the same year, entitled Matériel pour une préhistoire du cinéma haïtien ; and an article by the same author in the 1981 book Cinéma de l’Amérique latine by Guy Hennebel and Alfonso Gumucio Dagrón.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Technicolor</span> Color motion picture process

Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating back to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of film technology</span>

The history of film technology traces the development of techniques for the recording, construction and presentation of motion pictures. When the film medium came about in the 19th century, there already was a centuries old tradition of screening moving images through shadow play and the magic lantern that were very popular with audiences in many parts of the world. Especially the magic lantern influenced much of the projection technology, exhibition practices and cultural implementation of film. Between 1825 and 1840, the relevant technologies of stroboscopic animation, photography and stereoscopy were introduced. For much of the rest of the century, many engineers and inventors tried to combine all these new technologies and the much older technique of projection to create a complete illusion or a complete documentation of reality. Colour photography was usually included in these ambitions and the introduction of the phonograph in 1877 seemed to promise the addition of synchronized sound recordings. Between 1887 and 1894, the first successful short cinematographic presentations were established. The biggest popular breakthrough of the technology came in 1895 with the first projected movies that lasted longer than 10 seconds. During the first years after this breakthrough, most motion pictures lasted about 50 seconds, lacked synchronized sound and natural colour, and were mainly exhibited as novelty attractions. In the first decades of the 20th century, movies grew much longer and the medium quickly developed into one of the most important tools of communication and entertainment. The breakthrough of synchronized sound occurred at the end of the 1920s and that of full color motion picture film in the 1930s. By the start of the 21st century, physical film stock was being replaced with digital film technologies at both ends of the production chain by digital image sensors and projectors.

Technicolor Special was a common term used for Hollywood studio produced color short films of the 1930s and 1940s that did not belong to a specified series.

References

  1. "The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)". Australian Screen. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  2. "93rd Academy Awards of Merit rules" (PDF). Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 2, 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  3. "Rule 2 | 79th Academy Awards Rules | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Archived from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures
  5. "FAQ". British Film Institute . Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  6. "SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS ELIGIBILITY MOTION PICTURES" . Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  7. "SCREEN ACTORS GUILD MODIFIED LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT" (PDF). Archived from the original on December 29, 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. Charles Musser, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, pp. 197–200.
  9. Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema, University of Chicago Press, 2019, pp. 157–160, doi:10.7208/chicago/9780226610115.003.0012, ISBN   978-0-226-10563-5, S2CID   239321837 , retrieved August 9, 2021
  10. "Inauguration of the Commonwealth (1901): Education notes". Australian Screen. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  11. "Inauguration of the Commonwealth (1901)". Australian Screen. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  12. Passion Play (1903), in: The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures [online database].
  13. 1 2 3 Robertson, Patrick (2001). Film Facts. New York: Billboard Books. p. 9. ISBN   0-8230-7943-0 . Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  14. Patrick Robertson, Film Facts, New York: Billboard Books, 2001, p. 13. ISBN   0-8230-7943-0.
  15. Charles Urban, A Yank in Britain: The Lost Memoirs of Charles Urban, Film Pioneer, The Projection Box, 1999, p. 79. ISBN   978-0-9523941-2-9.
  16. Patrick Robertson, Film Facts, New York: Billboard Books, 2001, p. 10. ISBN   0-8230-7943-0.
  17. 1 2 3 Patrick Robertson, Film Facts, New York: Billboard Books, 2001, pp. 10–14. ISBN   0-8230-7943-0.
  18. Patrick Robertson, Film Facts, New York: Billboard Books, 2001, p. 12. ISBN   0-8230-7943-0.
  19. 1 2 American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures [online database].
  20. "'The Birth of a Nation' was the first feature and the first film shown at the White House." Movies Silently. Sept. 2015. September 2. 2017. http://moviessilently.com/2015/09/07/silent-movie-myth-the-birth-of-a-nation-was-the-first-feature-and-the-first-film-shown-at-the-white-house/
  21. Patrick Robertson, Film Facts, New York: Billboard Books, 2001, p. 15.
  22. Nelmes, Jill (2003), "10", An introduction to film studies (3rd ed.), Routledge, p. 360, ISBN   0-415-26268-2
  23. Carringer, Robert L (1979). The Jazz Singer. Wisconsin: Univ of Wisconsin Press. p.  17. ISBN   978-0299076641.
  24. Parkinson, David (April 18, 2012). "100 Ideas That Changed Film: Sound". Credo Reference. Laurence King. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Parkinson, David (April 18, 2012). ""Color" 100 Ideas That Changed Film". Credo Reference. Laurence King. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  26. Kroon, Richard W. (2010). ""Technicolor." A/v A to Z: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Media, Entertainment and Other Audiovisual Terms". Credo Reference. McFarland. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  27. 1 2 3 Parkinson, David (2012). ""Digital Video." 100 Ideas That Changed Film". Credo Reference. Credo Reference. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  28. "Important Firsts in Digital Filmmaking".
  29. 1 2 Kroon, Richard W. (2014). "Digital Cinema; A/v A to Z: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Media, Entertainment and Other Audiovisual Terms". Credo Reference. McFarland. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  30. Curtin, Michael; Holt, Jennifer & Sanson, Kevin (2014). Distribution Revolution : Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television. Berkeley, US: University of California Press. p. 165. ISBN   9780520959088.