120 Years of Cinema in 120 Seconds

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The most economical supercut you’ll see this week.

“It’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented. They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it.”

This is probably the truest thing to ever spill from the lips of artist and occasional filmmaker Andy Warhol, even over what he said about the future and everybody getting their 15 minutes of fame, because he’s exactly right, movies are cultural guides, they’re the cool step-parent showing us models for behavior and being outside our standard experience. In some cases this influence can be beneficial, it can provide positive examples to people who have none, it can reveal alternate life-paths, and it can teach one how to navigate the social world. On the other hand, this influence can be negative as well, it can instill jaded senses of masculinity and femininity, it can cause issues with personal perception in terms of one’s appearance or likeability, and it can actually isolate us by filling our heads with lofty, impossible ideals in regards to ourselves and other people.

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In short then, movies are the most influential medium ever, they are integral not just to our lives but to our understanding of life, they are teachers who aren’t always true but they are a valid part of our education as people, individually and as a cultural group. Not bad for an art form that’s barely a century old.

In the 120 years since Louis and August Lumiere packed the Grand Café in Paris for the first public display of moving pictures on December 28, 1895, the world has become bewitched by cinema. What started as entertainment has been elevated, in some instances, into an art form as more and more practitioners from the far-flung corners of the world add their voices to the symphony of cinema, which has flourished at every phase of its evolution to now, becoming as a result the primary creative medium in the world.

To thoroughly survey the history of film could take a lifetime, or it could take two measly minutes, time you throw away waiting in line for coffee, or riding the bus, or scrolling through Facebook. Those things are all well and good, but they’re no substitute for a shotgun education. Moon Film has done the heavy lifting, finding second-long clips for 120 movies, one for every year since the medium’s invention, that best capture the magic, marvel, and mystery of cinema. All you have to do is press play and try not to blink too much.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist