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The Origins of Film: 1900-1926 (The Library of Congress Video Collection)

The sad truth is that the vast majority of American silent films are lost. Ninety percent of the U.S. feature films from the 1910s and about 80 percent of those from the 1920s no longer exist. So The Origins of Film: 1900-1926, part of the Library of Congress Video Collection, brings us valuable goods — more than nine hours of it. Disc 1 holds The African American Cinema I and The African American Cinema II, beginning with the earliest known surviving feature film by an African American, followed by examples of the hundreds of "race movies" made by and for African Americans through what amounted to a separate "underground" film industry outside of Hollywood. A four-minute musical piece features young Eubie "Stardust" Blake on piano. Disc 2 opens with Origins of American Animation: 1900-1921, twenty-one short films and two fragments representing animation from the years Anno B.M. (Before Mickey). Also here is Origins of the Fantasy Feature, featuring L. Frank Baum's own production of The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914), with the Cowardly Lion played by future famous comedy film producer Hal Roach. Disc 3 has America's First Women Filmmakers, showcasing two women who were among our most prominent film directors, and Origins of the Gangster Film, with D.W. Griffith's The Narrow Road and Maurice Tourneur's 1915 masterpiece, Alias Jimmy Valentine. Full-screen (1.33:1), Dolby Digital 2.0 (stereo). Annotated program booklet by film historian Scott Simmon. Three keep-cases in a paperboard slip-case.
—Mark Bourne

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