Film History

Man with a movie Camera








Why Study Film History? 

As an art form that has only developed in the last 120 years, film is relatively new. Why then do film makers, film writers and historians find it important to study Film History?


You will be given a decade of cinema history to investigate. Through research,  you must explore key developments in the film during your decade.

a) What were the important films of the decade? Why – were they critically acclaimed for their style, acting, editing, sound track, special effects? Did they challenge conventions of film making or epitomize a particular film movement or genre? Who were the dominant directors and actors?

b) What technological advances dominated your decade? E.g. coming of sound, colour, 3D etc. How did these impact on individual films? Use examples from later films that show this impact.

c)    Investigate the commercial and industrial context of the films in your decade. E.g. were films being made within the studio system or independent of it? Was it a decade of blockbusters? Was the film industry financially threatened by other entertainment industries e.g. television,  VHS recorders, DVD, internet. How did the film industry respond?

d)   Historical, social and political trends. What were the key events happening outside of the industry e.g. Vietnam War, rise in feminism, AIDS, revolutions, peace movements, 9/11 attack, space exploration. How were these reflected in films of the time?

Things to consider:

  • You must go beyond Hollywood. Explore at least three national cinemas e.g. UK, France, Germany, Russia, Korea, China, India.
  • You must use at least 3 different text book sources and 3 internet sources (from reliable sights.)
  • Produce a documentary using visuals and voice over. This will be viewed by the rest of the class to help them to understand each decade of film history.  It will also be shared via Google docs.
  • Your research and your production will be graded (See Rubrics for Knowledge and Understanding and for Transfer of Learning in film history folder) You must cite all of your sources for images and information.

Some suggestions for internet searches:

Customized ISM Film Search Engine

BFI – British Film Industry Webpage


University of Minnesota