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In the early years of narrative cinema there was little pressure on filmmakers for the ‘evolution of film forms before nickelodeons’ (Salt, 1990, pp31) as cinema neither became a mass nor high cultural product and was still a novelty but ‘Production companies’ profits were based principally on the sales of longer fiction films’ in the later years (Musser, 1990, pp256) so focus was made for the production of popular narratives so I will show how the early development of narrative evolved from trick films to complex narrative. I will analyse the short film Mary Jane’s Mishap (1903, Smith) and an extract from the seminal The Birth of a Nation (1915, D.W.Griffith).
Mary Jane’s Mishap was made when ‘multi-scene films were becoming popular’ (Salt, 1990, pp32) It is notable for its use of experimental transitions. To ‘separate successive scenes’ (Salt, 1990, pp32) Smith used vertical wipes to transition to wider framed shot. This efficiently showed an ellipsis in time from the funeral to people visiting her grave. D.W.Griffith also used inventive shots but popularised them rather than inve…