Introduction to the chronological bibliography on the intertitle in silent films

  • In the first years of cinematography, the exhibitors mostly used magic lantern slides to project films titles before the film’s projection. In Europe and in the United States, around 1902–1903, motion pictures started to be sold with edited titles on films, and edited subtitles on multi shot films. From around 1907, as the length and number of shots, subtitles and words increased, there was a kind of competition between the subtitle and the lecturer to explain the films to the audiences. In the transitional period – 1907–1916 –, the trade press and scenario manuals constantly debated subtitle usefulness and limits. On one hand the dream of cinematography as a universal language was incompatible with this device, and the strong ideal of the titleless film advocated that moving pictures should tell stories by themselves, without the aid of any external narration, like theatre plays. On the other hand, there were more realistic approaches: subtitles were unavoidable, as they were essential to make a film understandable. The main recommendation, however, was to use them very sparingly, and only when it was absolutely necessary, because they might spoil suspense by giving a summary of the action in advance, they were also considered to have an adverse impact on the “reality effect”, to be exterior to the story and to interrupt the flow of images. Despite the reluctances and ambivalences towards it, as the industry organized itself in the 1910’s the subtitle was retooled, and became conventional and largely used for the construction of the classical narrative film.

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Author:Claire Dupré la Tour, Caroline AmannGND
Parent Title (German):Medienwissenschaft, Hamburg : Berichte und Papiere ; 145
Series (Serial Number):Medienwissenschaft / Hamburg: Berichte und Papiere (145)
Publisher:Universität Hamburg, Institut für Germanistik II
Place of publication:Hamburg
Document Type:Part of Periodical
Year of Completion:2012
Year of first Publication:2012
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/06/29
Page Number:20
Dewey Decimal Classification:7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 79 Sport, Spiele, Unterhaltung / 790 Freizeitgestaltung, darstellende Künste, Sport
7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 79 Sport, Spiele, Unterhaltung / 791 Öffentliche Darbietungen, Film, Rundfunk
Sammlungen:Sammlung Musik, Theater, Film / Literatur zum Film
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht