“Actualities” were short films of everyday life, particularly street scenes and mundane activities, generally made between 1888 and 1910. These played both in kinetoscope machines (found in storefront parlors, these were coin-operated and accommodated only one customer at a time) or in vaudeville theaters (with blank screens added behind the stage), and initially elicited both popular fascination and some degree of trepidation.
Watch these short films, which represent the chief type of motion pictures then available:
Thinking in terms of what people living during this period knew and routinely experienced, what made these plotless films so interesting? Was it the films’ content or did it have more to do with context (sheer novelty, fascination with modernity, etc.)?
The weekly assignments should run roughly 300 to 400 words, with well-edited prose and the sources cited at the end. Each week, these are due on Fridays.