As 2016 came to a close, everyone was ready to start fresh in 2017. However, 2017 did not seem fresh and clean, instead it was a fresh start to a new brand of turmoil and vocal defiance. Violence and unrest was at the forefront for most of 2017. Trump continued his unique, antagonistic version of political and social interaction. Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated Florida and Puerto Rico. The United States, and specifically the film industry and political figures, saw a gender revolution in terms of women speaking out about sexual assault. On a personal level, I saw the birth of my son, which created a shining and distracting light through the turbulence of the year. It also limited my movie watching time, and so I am a little behind on films this year.
The short answer for the question, “What is the first movie?”, depends on your definition of a movie. Are you looking for the earliest projected image? Then the answer would be images that were projected through Magic Lanterns, a centuries old device comprised of a light source and glass. The first projection using film would be the 1887 film Man Walking Around the Corner by Le Prince. The first commercial release of motion capture would be seconds long short films designed for the Zoetrope. The first feature film was The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight in 1897 at over an hour long. The first motion picture that had a story arc is considered to be The Story of the Kelly Gang, a 1906 Australian film with a run time of 60 minutes that played in several countries. What can be pinpointed as the “first movie” is subjective and up for individual interpretation.
The year 2016 was a dramatic and transitional year in the States; marked by numerous shootings in America and acts of extreme violence world wide. The deaths of many influential people who helped transform the 20th century was more impactful in 2016 than previous years. Some notable deaths include: Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Harper Lee, Garry Shandling, George Martin, Prince, Gordie Howe, Muhammad Ali, Garry Marshall, Gene Wilder, Arnold Palmer, Fidel Castro, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds. The political landscape saw some major shifts, including the inauguration of Donald Trump, Brexit, the impeachment of the Presidents of Brazil and South Korea, major turmoil and civil war in Aleppo, Syria. That is not to say the year was all bad: scientific breakthroughs such as the detection of gravitational waves 100 years after Albert Einstein’s prediction, the Cubs winning the World Series, and a decrease in the unemployment rate provided positive relief from the tragic aspects of the year. All in all, there did seem to be an overwhelming desire to “start fresh” in 2017.
Many of the films last year encapsulated the struggles of 2016 in powerful and engaging ways, others succeeded in distracting people from the real world. Racial tensions were highly publicized throughout the year in local and national news. This ever-present and compelling issue found its way into many commercial and less-commercial motion picture vehicles. Many films conveyed impactful and engaging messages that reached a wide audience.