The story began far back in time, before dinosaurs roamed the earth with
their mighty noses and clompety feet. Ok, not quite that far, but to an era
when for one guinea you could travel to Australia and back on a whippet and
still have enough change for a house, a car, a pot of mushy peas and a trip
to the brothel. So that's about 100 years ago, and it started with a man
called Darren Sony.
Darren, a precocious young fellow from New Jersey in the state of New Jersey
near Paris in Guatemala was given a chemistry set for his 15th birthday.
Within a year he had produced the world's first ever camcorder, which he
named the Sony DCR-PC100 Digital Camcorder. The device boasted 1,070,000
pixels, providing stunning detail and clarity, with exceptional video and
still image performance; a Mega-Pixel CCD combined with Advanced HAD design
technologies giving awesome video performance in excess of 500 horizontal
lines of resolution; high quality Advanced HAD design CCD imager that
reduced noise in the video signal to improve signal-to-noise ratio by up to
6db, 2x better than a standard CCD (particularly effective when shooting in
dark situations); and a quick and easy interface for PC and camera, with
convenient manipulation and catalog features.
But Darren chose to put this aside and concentrate some piece of shit that
couldn't record sound and made everything look really quick. He showed this
to his dad's friend, a Communist infiltrator named Charles Chaplin, and thus
the silent movie was born.
Charlie Chappers was the main man, though rivals Buster Keaton and Harold
Lloyd ran him close. Their métier was slapstick, and audiences loved it -
indeed many laughed so much that their heads fell off. This was because
movie theatres churned out laughing gas into the auditorium through
ventilation pipes, a ploy suggested by Chaplin, mindful that his films were
not particularly amusing. Even so, you have to remember that to a whole
generation the idea of watching moving images on a big screen was totally
new and amazing. They could have been watching their families being
slaughtered and they'd still have loved it. Indeed some years later, they
did. The film was called Pathe News.
This isn't to say the silent movies are of any worth - they aren't. They
lack two crucial things: colour and sound. Something had to give and when a
Mr Wayne Dolby Sr. introduced the spoken word into films, silent cinema died
a silent death, and Chaplin et al silently pissed off back to their
mirth-free silent little holes.
The seeds, however, had been sown. Cinema ruled; the moving imaged rocked.
And by now, Hollywood, that mythological palace of dreams in the smog-ridden
sprawling hellhole that is Los Angeles, had the world in its specious grip.
Everyone wanted to be a film star. Sensing this, Hollywood began limbering
up, became the ruthless, greedy, obsessive publicity machine we know it as
today, a place where those of little talent can make it big by virtue of
looking rather fetching on screen. The Hollywood we see now, sitting smugly
in Bel Air Mansions and fenced-up Beverley Hills hideaways within miles of
poverty-fuelled suffering and interracial murders, the same Hollywood that
sneaks out once a year to Democratic conventions promoting welfare aid, the
stinking hypocritical obscene Hollywood that cares for nothing but feeding
its fat bloated belly till it bleeds the earth dry... sounds all right to
me. When can I have an audition?
But that is enough about the distant past and the inglorious present. I
intend to skip four decades to the 1970s because, let's face it, there's not
much made before then that's worth watching. I do recall liking The Wizard
of Oz as a child, at least up to the anticlimactic point when you discover
that the all-powerful wizard is a bloke in a kiosk with a tannoy system. I
suppose Hitchcock made a few watchable flicks too. In general, though, my
point holds true.
For in the 1970s a breed of exciting new filmmakers arrived, quite
literally, on the crest of a wave. No one know from whence they came, or how
they learned to be such good surfers, but when they crashed simultaneously
onto the golden shores of Malibu, CA, to the astonishment of baffled
onlookers, only one thing was certain: they all had facial hair.
Their story must wait another day.