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The Berlin Varieté Wintergarten became the first cinema in history when the Skladanowsky brothers first screened a film there in 1895.

The film is an art form that finds its expression in the production of moving images by means of photo , camera and sound technology , with silent films the sound was subordinate or was tried through different possibilities . In general, the images will be a movie projector in the dark on a screen or projected on a screen generated. Nowadays cinema and television films are mostly colored images that are set to music and accompanied by music. The film is among other things the subject of film studies and film theory . The technical, cultural and artistic development of this optical medium since its beginnings around 1900 is presented in detail under film history .


Originally one understood under film ( English film 'skin' ) thin layers (as with oil film ). With the invention of photography and the transition from the photo plate to the flexible nitrocellulose carrier for the photo emulsion , the term film was used for this elastic photo material. The term was transferred to scenes of moving images on such material until the entire art form was finally referred to as film . Numerous derivations such as film , film business or film industry are common.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the terms film or film strip were common for a film.

The original word for 'films', on the other hand, is cinematography (from the Greek kinema , movement , cf. kinematics and -graphy ' to record'), the analogue of phonography 'sound recording'. From this word, the term cinema 'Lichtspieltheater' develops as a shortened form ( light play as 'work of film art', also this word a contemporary education of the younger years of the film to drama ).

'Filming' itself goes beyond the terms film (art) and cinema in the current sense and is generally used for the recording of any moving image documents - often without film as a recording or playback medium. For feature films without film is digital movie camera used for television video and the private sector is often with a digital camera or a smartphone "filmed". In fact, the majority of all recorded moving images and the resulting film works are produced without film in the sense of a photographic carrier. A well-known saying about this change in linguistic usage comes from the director George Lucas : “ I will probably never ever shoot another film - on film. "(German:" I will probably never make a film on film again. ")


Social relevance

The film has three main meanings: firstly, as a mass medium for information and for raising awareness; secondly - since the production of professional films usually involves considerable technical and financial expenditure - an economic significance; and thirdly as a genre of art with its own distinctive aspects.

In the early days of film in particular, it was a matter of dispute whether film should be viewed as a simple entertainment medium or as a new art form. A film theory paper from 1928 reported:

“As we can see, the professionals involved in film production are divided into two large, almost hostile camps. Some see the film as nothing more than a currently very viable means of doing profitable business, a commodity that one adapts to the wishes of the middleman or consumer; the others regard the play of light as a new area for the creative will to create, as a means to new forms and exploitation of vital forces, in short: as a new art. It is fair to accept both points of view, because after all one can observe this dichotomy between art and business, creation and operation, elevation and dispersion, work and commodity, also in the other branches of art. "

- S. Walter Fischer

Film as a mass medium

Since the 20th century, film can be seen as one of the most important mass media ever, both in the form of cinema and in the form of television . At the same time, it has become one of the most important elements of modern culture. So are fictional movie characters, film-like behaviors, clichés and stereotypes , but also explore new pictorial perception and experience spaces in the age of mass distribution of the film became an integral part of popular culture promoted and characterize them with crucial. Right from the start, the medium of film has been linked to the culture of the masses who willingly surrendered to it, be it together in the cinema or individually in the living room. The film industry - referred to by critics as the “ culture industry ” - reacted early on to this mass compatibility of the film and knew how to use it commercially for itself with corresponding “light” productions as “mass goods”. At the same time, there was always room for film experiments and artistic developments beyond the classic “narrative cinema” in the Hollywood cinema, even if experimental film in the narrower sense was only possible outside of the established (cultural) business.

Film as an art form

The film in its various forms meets human curiosity and the need for entertainment . Fictional entertainment films , the feature films , offer the viewer the opportunity to immerse themselves in an imaginary fantasy world in which the rules of everyday life are turned upside down. Psychoanalytic film theories emphasize in particular the relationship between the film images and the images of the dream , which both give the viewer and the dreaming the opportunity to relax.

For the actors significantly involved in the production of a film - in particular screenwriters , directors , actors , cameramen , production designers , costume designers , film editors , sound designers and film composers - the film is also a means of artistic expression and cultural activity. Certain films, especially the “ auteur films ”, have now become an integral part of high culture and, like other artistic works, are reviewed and analyzed in terms of art history . Experimental film is one of the artistic forms of film . Films of lower quality are often referred to as B- movies or (film) clothes .

In general, film is assigned to the art form literature , like related theater . Depending on the type, purpose, content or design features of a film, it can be assigned to one or more film genres such as crime film , comedy , science fiction film , horror film , war film , romance film .

Numerous film festivals (film festivals) around the world award their film prizes to film productions and filmmakers who are based on quality criteria that are judged by specially composed juries . The most famous and important film prizes are awarded at the so-called " A-Festivals ".

States in which filmmaking has developed regard this as an expression of their cultural identity. The “film policy” of a country therefore often consists of expanding national film production and securing and promoting its performance - also in international competition.

Film as an economic factor

The film industry covers all areas of the film by the film production , the production up to its distribution, marketing, reproduction and utilization ( movie rentals ). Since the production of films is financially expensive, the question of film financing always arises . While in the United States , especially in the large studio facilities of Hollywood , films are financed through their international sales, European film productions are almost always dependent on subsidies. The reasons for this lie, among other things, in the small-scale European film industry, while in the United States one can speak of a true film industry. In particular, “Hollywood” is a synonym for the American film industry, as all the large and important film studios are located here.

A key factor in assessing the success of a film is the number of visitors in the cinemas and, subsequently, the sales figures for distribution media such as DVDs and merchandising products (games, toys, etc.). Due to more diverse leisure activities and the introduction of television since 1950, the number of cinema visits and thus the number of cinemas worldwide fell sharply to varying degrees until the 1990s.

In 2005, global feature film production rose by 7.8 percent to 4603 films compared to 2004. Most of the films were made in India , which in 2005 exceeded the total production of the EU-25 countries (1035) for the first time with 1041 films (see also: Bollywood ). The United States of America has the second largest output of films (699 films). This is followed by Nigeria or Nollywood (500), Japan (356), China (260) and France (240).

Film production

The Babelsberg studio in Potsdam near Berlin was founded in 1912, making it the world's first major film studio - and a forerunner to Hollywood . It still regularly produces blockbuster films.

The art of film requires a combination of different creative and artistic skills, including in the areas of dramaturgy , acting , photography ( lighting design , framing or image detail , film editing and sound design ). The people significantly involved in a film are called the staff . Due to the high cost of a film, economic issues are generally always taken into account. In Europe, feature films are generally dependent on film funding .

The phases of a typical film production are:

  1. Project development
  2. Pre-production
  3. Filming
  4. Post production
  5. Film exploitation

Technical requirements

Films consist of static individual images ( photographs ). The cinematic effect, the illusion of movement, arises in the viewer when individual images are shown in quick succession. From a frequency of around fifteen images per second, due to the interaction of stroboscopic movement and afterimage effect (inertia of the eye) on the retina of the human eye, they are no longer perceived as individual images, but as cinematic movement that visually resembles a real movement. Today, as in the cinema for decades, typically 24 frames per second are shown, but numerous filmmakers and technicians are demanding that considerably more frames per second be used in order to come closer to reality. For this reason, competing media that use moving images, such as computer games or television, use 50, 60 or even more images per second.

The art of film occurs in three major forms: On the one hand, there is classic film work, which uses photographic processes to take pictures of individual images of events in quick succession on sensors (see digital cinema camera ) or film material (see film camera ).

Finally , the animated film should be mentioned, in particular the animated film and its current development in computer animation film , in which no real processes are filmed as a whole, but the images are generated individually by drawing, stop motion or digital animation . The youngest sub- genre of this are the machinima , animated films made using computer games.

These images are projected onto a screen in a darkened room, giving the impression of a living scene.

Since the 1990s, due to the rapid development of digital systems, these technical differences seem to have blurred, especially in commercial productions. A trend towards the increasing digitization of the entire production chain can be observed: Real images are first digitized starting from the photographic film material or are already recorded directly with high-resolution digital cameras. This means that the production of the moving images is fully digital, in particular being supplemented by artificially generated images or image parts. The performance is also increasingly digital, which eliminates the wear and tear and loss of quality that are unavoidable in film-based performance.

Film theory

Film theory is the theoretical understanding of film. Since film can be understood as art , as a medium or as a commodity , there are correspondingly aesthetic , communication - theoretical , media-scientific and media-theoretical as well as economic film theories. A distinction can be made between theories that put the emphasis more on the filmmaker on the one hand and reception theories on the other hand that deal with the effect of the film on the viewer. The latter are among other things at the center of media impact research and media psychology . The central instrument for the theoretical investigation of individual films is film analysis .

Institutions and organizations

Numerous institutions worldwide deal scientifically with film, its preservation for the future and the promotion of qualitative filmmaking in the present. A particularly important long-term role is played by the film archives , which are dedicated to the collection and organization of films produced worldwide and which have been built up to a greater extent, especially since the interwar period . Different types of film organizations deal with other aspects of film, such as marketing and promoting national productions. From actors to producers, there is a large number of interest groups and professional associations around the world.

At the European level, the European Film Promotion , an association of film organizations from 28 European countries, is the most important supranational applicant and marketer of European film in the world , in addition to the EU funding programs Media Program and EURIMAGES .

See also

Portal: Film  - Overview of Wikipedia content on film


  • Ronald Bergan: Everything about film. World's best films. Directors. Genres. Dorling Kindersley, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-8310-2213-7 .
  • Kevin Brownlow : pioneers of film. From silent films to Hollywood ( The Parade's Gone by… ). Series of publications by the German Film Museum in Frankfurt am Main. Basel and Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld 1997, ISBN 3-87877-386-2 .
  • Andrea Gronemeyer: Film. 3rd, updated edition. DuMont, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-8321-3844-8 .
  • Malte Hagener / Michael Töteberg : Film - an international bibliography , Stuttgart [u. a.]: Metzler 2002, ISBN 3-476-01523-8 .
  • Henry V. Hopwood: Living Pictures: Their History, Photo-Production and Practical Working. With a Digest of British Patents and Annotated Bibliography. London 1899.
  • David S. Hulfish: Cyclopedia of Motion-Picture Work. American Technical Society, Chicago 1911.
  • Kim Jong-il : About the art of cinema. Foreign Language Literature Publishing House, Pyongyang 1989.
  • Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Reclams Sachlexikon des Films. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-010833-8 . (With 148 commented b / w illustrations)
  • Dieter Krusche: Reclam's film guide. 13th, revised edition. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-010676-1 . (With 250 b / w illustrations)
  • James Monaco : Understanding Film. Art, technology, language, history and theory of film and new media. With an introduction to multimedia. Revised and expanded new edition. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-499-62538-1 . (Since 1977 international standard work with numerous b / w pictures and graphics)
  • James Monaco, Hans-Michael Bock : Understanding Film. The encyclopedia. The most important technical terms for film and new media. Revised new edition. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-499-62667-8 . (Around 4000 key words from the field of moving image media)
  • Jürgen Müller (Ed.): Taschen's 100 film classics. Volume 1: 1915-1959. Taschen, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8365-2399-8 .
  • Jürgen Müller (Ed.): Taschen's 100 film classics. Volume 2: 1960-2000. Taschen, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8365-2399-8 .
  • Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (Ed.): History of international film , Stuttgart: Metzler 2006, ISBN 3-476-02164-5
  • Steven Jay Schneider (Ed.): 1001 Movies You Should See Before Life Is Over. 10th, updated new edition. Edition Olms, Zurich 2013, ISBN 978-3-283-01161-1 . (Selected and discussed by 77 international film critics)
  • Michael Töteberg (Ed.): Metzler Film Lexicon . 2nd, updated and expanded edition. JB Metzler, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-476-02068-1 . (Reviews of 500 international classics)
  • Amos Vogel: Film as subversive art , Reinbek: Rowohlt 2000, ISBN 3-499-60660-7
  • Jürgen Wilke : Film. In: Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, Winfried Schulz, Jürgen Wilke (Hrsg.): Fischer Lexikon Publizistik Massenkommunikation . 5th, updated, completely revised and supplemented edition. Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-18192-6 , pp. 13–41.

Web links

Commons : Movies  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Film  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Herbert Birett : Cinema in Germany until 1914, Q-Verlag, Munich, 1994, page 1.
  2. NAB2001: George Lucas never wants to shoot on film again., April 23, 2001, accessed on August 16, 2020 .
  3. ^ S. Walter Fischer: The play of light as an art form. In: L'Estrange Fawcett: The world of film. Amalthea-Verlag, Zurich, Leipzig, Vienna 1928, p. 155.
  4. ^ Josef Steiff: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking . Alpha Books, 2005, pp. 26-28 (English).