Welcome to Film History!

This is an online accompaniment for a course that has existed – and evolved – for over 40 years as an essential part of Champlain College’s Media program.  Designed for the asynchronous lessons of the Covid pandemic, the site can now be used for review, or for further research to complement the live classes.

Cinema incorporates the possibility of images, sound, and movement, including photography, set design, colour, words, music, dance, acting, story-telling… in short, all the visual and aural arts.  This makes it a powerful medium of expression, brimming with potential.  For this reason, throughout its 125-year history, it has attracted brilliant and innovative artists who have created some of the world’s most important cultural works.

Cinema began as an ‘egalitarian’ medium, accessible to all.  Regardless of language, education, or income, people grouped together to watch those magical flickering images on makeshift screens in carnival tents and in basement halls.  And while they were being entertained by the madcap chase scenes and over-the-top romance and adventure, they were also being educated.  The filmmakers themselves may not have realized it, but every frame carried not only their aspirations and dreams, but also the values their societies found important.  Movies help to create, shape, and reinforce our values.  This is still true today.

In our media-saturated contemporary lives, cinema may no longer be the dominant art form it once was.  But it left its mark on all visual media, and on our lives.

I hope you will enjoy this course, as we look at the colourful characters, events, inventions, and stories of the cinema, inextricably woven into the fast-paced political and social changes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  And I hope you will see also the importance of keeping that history alive.

This website was designed by Dan Babineau, Dana Babineau Burns, and Antoine Malette.