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Decade: 1900s
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A Corner in Wheat 1909

14
Silent
USA

A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit.

A Trip to the Moon 1902

13
Silent
France

A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. This early, remarkable film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon's surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite.

As Seen through a Telescope 1900

1
Silent
UK

An elderly gentleman in a silk hat sits on a stool in front of a store on the main street of town. He has a telescope that he focuses on the ankle of a young woman who is a short distance away. Her husband catches the gent looking. What will the two men now do?

Attack on a China Mission 1900

4
Silent
UK

The titles tell us this film is based on an incident in the Boxer Rebellion. A man tries to defend a woman and a large house against Chinese attackers. They attack with swords, guns, and paddles. He's over-matched. What will become of the mission, its defenders, and its occupants?

Dream of a Rarebit Fiend 1906

7
Silent
USA

Adapted from Winsor McCay's films and comics of the period, this film follows the established theme: the "Rarebit Fiend" gorges himself on rarebit and thus suffers spectacular hallucinatory dreams.

Fantasmagorie 1908

2
Silent
France

The first all-animated film in history, a series of scenes without much narrative structure, but morphing into each other.

Histoire d'un crime 1901

5
Silent
France

The cell of a man condemned to death. He's sleeping and dreaming about the past that brought him to prison: a frantic pace of living, bad friendships, alcoholism, the murder of a bank-employer. At the end he dreams of climbing up scaffolding, and he suddenly wakes up...

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces 1906

3
Silent
USA

Considered the first truly animated movie (or at least the first verifiable, surviving animation), this film is based on the lightning-sketch, a popular vaudeville act. The artist (Blackton) draws a series of faces on a blackboard, which then seem to take on a life of their own.

La lanterne magique 1903

3
Silent
France

In this brief "trick film" two clowns assemble an enormous magic lantern which first projects moving images, then emits dancing girls.

La Vie du Christ 1906

33
Silent
France

The life of Jesus Christ in 25 scenes.

Mary Jane's Mishap 1903

4
Silent
UK

Smith casts his wife as a sluttish housewife who is mutilated by lighting her oven with paraffin.

Miniature Theatre 1906

5
Silent
France

Three young children set up a table, and on the table is placed a miniature stage. The stage curtain opens, a carpet appears, and then the carpet unrolls by itself. Two puppet figures then come out and begin to perform a series of routines.

Rescued by Rover 1905

7
Silent
UK

A dog leads its master to his kidnapped baby.

Rescued from an Eagle's Nest 1908

6
Silent
USA

A family is terrified when an eagle carries off its young child.

The Assassination of the Duke of Guise 1908

15
Silent
France

Lasting longer than was then usual, about 15 minutes, the film more or less accurately depicts the events of the day in 1588 when King Henry III (played by co-director Le Bargy) summoned his powerful rival, Duke Henri de Guise, to his chambers at the Château de Blois and had him brutally murdered. The film has its share of lurid thrills, and the pacing is quick throughout, with better acting than most films of the time, and staged in a somewhat theatrical manner.

The Big Swallow 1901

1
Silent
UK

A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins.

The Countryman and the Cinematograph 1901

1
Silent
UK

A satire on the way that audiences unaccustomed to the cinema didn't know how to react to the moving images on a screen - in this film, an unsophisticated (and stereotypical) country yokel is alternately baffled and terrified, in the latter case by the apparent approach of a steam train

The Great Train Robbery 1903

11
Silent
USA

Among the earliest existing films in American cinema - notable as the first film that presented a narrative story to tell - it depicts a group of cowboy outlaws who hold up a train and rob the passengers. They are then pursued by a Sheriff's posse. Several scenes have color included - all hand tinted.

The Impossible Voyage 1904

24
Silent
France

Using every known means of transportation, several savants from the Geographic Society undertake a journey through the Alps to the Sun which finishes under the sea.

The Life and Passion of Christ 1907

44
Silent
France

Life and Passion of the Christ is one of the earliest feature-length narrative films. The film, with sequences made in the stencil color process Pathéchrome, takes a straightforward approach to its subject matter. All scenes are introduced by an inter-title giving the traditional name of the event (the Annunciation, the Nativity, etc.) followed by the actors playing out the familiar stories from the Gospels. Other than the scene titles, there are no other inter-titles.

The Living Playing Cards 1904

3
Silent
France

A bearded magician holds up a large playing card and makes it larger. He tears up a card of a queen, burns the torn bits, and a life-size Queen of Hearts card appears; then, it becomes alive. The magician puts her back into the card. The same thing happens with the King of Clubs: the card becomes alive. The king removes his costume, and there's something very familiar about him.

The One-Man Band 1900

2
Silent
France

On an empty stage, a magician (Méliès) multiplies himself and his chair to form an instrumental band, which he conducts in a lively piece of music. He then returns to each of his identical copies, and a giant ornamental fan appears behind him. Jumping up, the magician disappears in a puff of smoke before returning to the stage for a final bow.

Uncle Josh's Nightmare 1900

2
Silent
USA

Poor Uncle Josh is trying to get to sleep, but being constantly bedeviled by a fellow in red long underwear with horns. A short early trick editing film using a stationary camera much more valuable for its historical, rather than entertainment value.