The Introduction Of Sound Into Cinema

What Was The Effect Of The Introduction Of Sound Into Cinema On The Development Of Cinema Across The World?

Not everyone was excited about the introduction of sound to cinema, or “talkies”. Chaplin once told an interviewer that he “loathed” talkies, adding, “They are spoiling the oldest art in the world – the art of pantomime. They are ruining the great beauty of silence. They are defeating the meaning of the screen… The screen is pictorial. Pictures! Lovely looking girls, handsome young men… What if the girls can’t act? Of course they can’t. Who has cared?…” Two years later, in 1931, he was still venting his spleen: “I give the talkies six months more. At the most, a year. Then they’re done.”.

Chaplin wasn’t alone in his scepticism of talkies, however, he clearly got it wrong this time. However, his argument isn’t totally invalid and he; You do still get the odd over (or just plain bad) actor who, in a silent movie, would be fine. But the talkies are, of course, still thriving today.

Their introduction wasn’t quite as smooth as one might think, however. As the film The Artist (2011, Dir. Michel Hazanavicius, France) explores: some proficient silent movie actors would have been foreign actors whose first language wasn’t English, and would have strong accents, potentially making them hard for largely English-Speaking American audiences to understand and some actors might even be mutes. Or, as Singing in the Rain (1952, Dir. Gene Kelly, US) explores; and already proficient silent movie actor/actress might have an unappealing talking or singing voice, or might not be able to remember their lines, effectively ruining their career.

Silent cinema is also international. No dubbing, so subtitles. You may have to translate and make a new title card, but that would be easier and cheaper than dubbing/subtitling an entire film. Not least because there would be fewer title cards in a silent movie than there would be dialogue in a talkie. This may also cause confusion as to who the star of the film actually is. With silent movies, you were watching, say Chaplin, in every country. But if a film were dubbed, now you’re watching Chaplin while listening to someone else, who’s the real star? Or, of course, the film could be subtitled, in which case, why move to talkies at all? If you’re not going to change the way everyone watches movies, why change them at all?

The Jazz Singer (1927, Dir. Alan Crosland, US) is cited as the first “Talkie”. A Warner Brother’s production, its opening credits were still very much in the style of a silent film, even having some text on the screen after the credits to introduce it (Image 1) as well as title cards for speech (Image 2). Three minutes in, however, We see and hear a woman singing. Soon after, a man is seen and heard singing and, once the song ends, about 17 minutes into the film, the man starts to talk to his audience (Within the film, not breaking the fourth wall), whom we can hear are clapping and shouting at him. However, once his songs are over, he goes and talks to a young girl in the audience and the speech cards return. This is very reminiscent of The Artist (Or vice versa as The Artist is a much more recent film).

Before talkies came about, films had some very interesting experiments with sound; Sunrise (1927, Dir. F.W. Murnau, US) is an interesting film in that it is a silent film with no dialogue (But does use inter-titles) that plays with sound rather interestingly. It uses sound effects such as a horn when the main character is shouting.

The first “All-talking” feature-length picture (The Jazz Singer was only about 25% talkie) was Warner’s gangster film Lights of New York (1928, Dir. Bryan Foy, US). However, even after the introduction of the talkie, studios would make two versions of a movie, one talkie and one silent. A major example being All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Dir. Lewis Milestone, US) these being called “International Sound Versions”.

The existence and use of the afore mentioned International Sound Versions shows that the movie industry did clearly realise the problem that English talkies might have with an international audience which would, in turn, affect that which studios cared about most; their intake. So obviously they had to over come the problem somehow.

During the early years of the talkie, the synchronization technology was still too primitive for dubbing, and so some american studios found their sound productions being rejected in foreign-language markets and even among speakers of other dialects of English. One of the solutions for this was creating parallel foreign-language versions of Hollywood films. In 1930, american companies opened a studio in Joinville-le-Point in France. The same sets and wardrobe were used for time-sharing crews.

The parallel versions also brought in unemployed foreign actors, playwrights, etc. to work on the parallel versions of English-language films. The parallel versions had a lower budget, were shot at night and were directed by second-line American directors who, more often than not, did not speak the foreign language. Unfortunately, the productions weren’t very successful in their intended markets due to problems like the actors having no experience in cinema, the low budgets being apparent, the mix of accents (Spanish, Mexican, Chilean, etc.), some markets lacked sound equipped theaters.

Some productions did, however, compare favourably with the original, Dracula being one example. But by the mid-thirties, synchronization had advanced enough for dubbing to become normal.

The first talkie cartoon was, of course, Steamboat Willie (1928, Dir. Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks, US) (Image 3), the first appearance of Mickey Mouse. It isn’t really a “talkie” as the only dialogue is muffled sounds, however, it is the first cartoon with synchronized sound full of sound effects and music. The film also took its title from the film Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928, Dir. Buster Keaton, Charles Reisner, US). Mickey Mouse never spoke until his ninth short, The Karnival Kid (1929, Dir. Ubi Iwerks, Walt Disney, US), voiced by Disney himself, he said “Hot dogs!”.

The same year, Walt Disney started his Silly Symphony animated cartoon series, the first release being The Skeleton Dance (1929, Dir. Walt Disney, US). The same year still, the first synchronised talking cartoon (as opposed to a cartoon with a soundtrack), Bosco The Talk-Ink Kid (1929, Dir. Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising. US) (Image 4). Harman also created the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoon series with Warner Brothers.

The first British all-talkie picture was made by none other that Alfred Hitchcock. Blackmail (1929, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, Britain) was originally released as a silent film, but the studio pressured Hitchcock into adding dialogue sequences (With post-synchronaisation techniques). The film was advertised by posters: “See & Hear It – Our mother tongue as it should be – SPOKEN! 100% Talkie. 100% Entertainment. Hold everything till you’ve heard this one!”. A silent version was still released for theatres not equipped for sound.

So, it seems that when talkies were first introduced they got off to a rocky start in their production and distribution, especially in non-english speaking countries, until technology managed to catch up. However, Hollywood did realise this and try to overcome it by releasing silent and foreign language versions of talkies. But it was a bumpy start to say the least. Talkies were a big hit by the early thirties, causing silent cinema to die out fairly quickly, with Chaplin producing his last (almost) silent film, City Lights (Dir. Charlie Chaplin, US) in 1931 before briefly trying his hand at talkies.

 

Bibliography

Boyd, W. (2011). Is The Artist the Best Film of the year?.Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/8943585/Is-The-Artist-the-best-film-of-the-year.html. Last accessed 10th Dec 2013.

Dirks, T. (N/A). The History of Film The 1920s The Pre-Talkies and the Silent Era . Available: http://www.filmsite.org/20sintro4.html. Last accessed 10th Dec 2013.

 

Individual Textual Analysis

“The Pill Scene” from Limitless: The scene from Limitless where NZT first takes affect.

This essay will be analysing a scene from the movie Limitless (2011, Dir. Neil Burger, US). “The Pill Scene” is a pivotal moment in the plot as it is the first time we see the effects of the drug “NZT”, a pill that allows you to access 100% of your brain, when we normally only use 20%. It is a pivotal moment as the film focuses on the main character, Eddie Mora (played by Bradley Cooper)’s exploits while he is using NZT.

Throughout the film, you have a voiceover from the main character to help you understand the plot. It could also be because the book it’s based on is written in a first person perspective.

He is given the pill by his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon, who is an “ex” drug dealer. After Eddie, who is a writer, tell Vernon of his sever writer’s block, Vernon hands Eddie a single pill of NZT, telling him that it will solve all of his problems. After Eddie initially refuses, not wanting to take drugs, Vernon gives it to him for free, telling him that a pill usually costs “800 bucks”. On his way home, Eddie figures his life couldn’t get any worse, so he takes the pill.

Just before Eddie reaches his apartment, he’s stopped by his landlord’s wife who begins to rant at him for not paying the rent. This is the point where the pill kicks in. To represent the other 80% of his brain kicking in, we see another Eddie walk into the original one, as if he were a ghost as the cinematography goes from gritty and shaky (Image 2), to colourful and sturdy (Image 1). An effect achieved, in part, by using a tripod/dolly/etc. when he is on NZT and using a camera by hand when he’s not, emphasizing his proficiency and efficiency when on NZT.

Eddie then proceeds to talk much more quickly and confidently (even the voice over speeds up a bit) and is able to talk his way out of the situation before going home and being extremely motivated to clean his apartment.

The scene is also shot in almost POV style. In that, when we see Eddie, we are looking up at him, as if we were the landlord’s wife (Image 4), and when we are looking at the wife, we are looking down on her, as if we were Eddie. However, they never look into the camera, so we aren’t QUITE seeing it from their perspective. Also, if we look at the scene before, the same technique is used when one character is stood up and another is sat down. We’re looking up at the standing one and down at the sitting one.

Just before the drug takes affect, the camera wanders about a bit, going in and out of focus as the main character feels uneasy, but as soon as the drug kicks in, everything is bright and we get some extreme close ups of the landlord’s wife, probably to show us that, now the drug has kicked in, Eddie is more attentive, this is proved when he brings up the fact that the landlord’s wife is in law school. When she asks how he knew she accuses him of being a “creep” and following her. Denying the accusation, he tells her he saw her law book in her back as she retorts that he could only see the corner, so there’s no way he could have know what it was. We then hear a voiceover explaining that Eddie had seen the book years before, twelve years ago in college, showing that NZT can also access longterm memories that you never had access to before. He then uses previously un-accessed information from some museums and half-watched documentaries to seduce her, showing what the drug can do to your memory and charm.

Once the drug has kicked in and he is confident, there is no music in the scene until just before we cut to him in his apartment. The song that begins is a fairly high tempo song, “Walking” by Ash Grunwald. As the song kicks in, he starts to clean his apartment with this newfound surge of motivation. While cleaning his apartment, we get a shot of his apartment as there are several Eddie’s in the apartment tidying up. The multiple Eddie’s show how quickly and efficiently he’s tidying his apartment. What’s clever about these shot is that Eddie looks like he’s helping himself tidy up. It also includes a panning shot with multiple Eddies in it, which is pretty impressive.

While shooting the scenes that Eddie was under the effects of NZT, Bradley Cooper’s eyes are a much brighter shade of blue, achieved through contact lenses and CGI, possibly to make him seem brighter while using the drug.

A quick voice over tells us that Eddie “wasn’t high, wasn’t wired, just clear. I knew what i had to do and how to do it.” giving us a little more insight to the effect of the drug, that it does just make you clearer and access the whole of your brain and motivate you. (Note: And alternative name for NZT is “The Clear Pill”).

With his motivation, Eddie turns his attention to the book he needs to write. As he types quickly, CGI graphics of alphabetical letter fall around him as he types quickly (Image 3), showing how efficiently he is working and how the words are just pouring out of him. We then see an extreme close up of his hands typing. The footage has been sped up to give off the effect that the drug has allowed him to work extremely quickly.

As Eddie wakes up the next morning, the drug has worn off and we are back to the gritty, handheld cinematography. This trend continues for the rest of the film and works extremely well in making the film interesting, while also letting the audience know if Eddie is currently using NZT or not. The film also plays a lot with cinematography to try and give off the effects of NZT, playing with steady-cam, colour, lenses, editing and angles.

 

Butch and Sundance – Romanticisation.

‘Analyse one aspect of the representation in one media text of your choice’
1000 words

Butch and Sundance – Romanticisation.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 western movie directed by George Roy Hill, starring Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance kid. It depicts the exploits of outlaws Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabough, better known, respectively, as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Although the film is based on true events, the film romanticises the two titular characters and they’re exploits, depicting them as fairly happy and friendly people, making them likable characters, despite them being outlaws.

This is not an uncommon technique to do in all forms of story telling. The film Public Enemies (2009, Dir. Michael Mann) shows the outlaw John Dillinger as an almost Robin Hood character. Speaking of Robin Hood, in most pieces of fiction he appears, he is also an outlaw shown to be doing good, with his stories being romanticised. However, John Dillinger IS shown in a bad light at times in Public Enemies, but the film still manages to make us root for him.

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however, they are consistently shown as “good guys” even when robbing trains and banks, going so far as to have Butch say that they’re only “taking the bank’s money.” and not the public’s. In one scene, when Butch and Sundance return the the “Hole in the Wall” (Their gang’s hideout) one member of the gang questions Butch’s leadership and challenges him to a fight. Butch consistently says that he “Don’t wanna shoot with you, Harvey!”, showing Butch to be non-confrontational and nonviolent. Even later, when they’re blowing their way into a train to take the money on board, he’s constantly friendly with the man on the train, pleading with him to let them on so they don’t have to hurt him and even going so far as to check on him once they’ve blown the door open.

The Sundance Kid is shown in a very similar light. However, this could just be because he is very loyal to Butch. Despite also being a “Good guy outlaw” in the film, he seems more willing to use violence than Butch. He even has a reputation for being very fast, accurate and deadly on the draw, as shown in the opening minutes of the film.

In one scene, Butch rides and a bicycle with Etta Place (Played by Katherine Ross) and what follows is a scene in which Butch performs some rather impressive and comedic stunts and poses on the bike (Image 1), before enraging a bull and falling off of the bike. Although the scene is not too out of place in terms of style when you consider the rest of the film, it does, however, seem a bit unlikely to have happened in real life. This sequence was, in fact, written for the film and non-factual, thus re-emphasising the films attempts to romanticise the protagonists and show them in a brighter light.

When a posse starts to come after Butch and Sundance, they deduce what it must include a marshal called Joe Lefors and a native american tracker named Lord Baltimore before being chased ruthlessly across the country by the posse. In actuality, they WERE chased by a posse that included marshal Joe Lefors, but it didn’t include Lord Baltimore as he didn’t exist, plus in real life Butch and Sundance actually escaped the posse with ease. This shows more creative freedoms taken by the filmmakers to romanticise the film and make it more exciting.

There is also one famous scene where they have the choice to either jump into a ravine or fight a posse that greatly outnumbers them. This scene was created by the writer (William Goldman) to add humour and drama to the film however, as stated above, they did manage to avoid posse with relative ease. The fact that it was added for entertainmaint purposes is more apparent when you look at how unrealistic the climax to the scene is and how humourous the dialogue between the two characters is:

Butch: I’ll jump first.
Sundance: Nope.
Butch: Then you jump first.
Sundance: No, I said!
Butch: What’s the matter with you!?
Sundance: I can’t swim!
Butch: [Laughing] Why, you crazy… The fall’ll probably kill ya!

This scene (Image 3) shares a similarity with a later scene, in that they’re both dramatic, yet have elements of humour:

Butch: We’re going to run out (of ammunition) unless we can get to that mule and get some more.
Sundance: I’ll go.
Butch: This is no time for bravery. I’ll let ya!

As this scene happened just before they get gunned down, we don’t know if this actually happened or not as, in real life, the whole story about this shootout and their deaths are disputed, but it makes a great comedic bit for the film.

Throughout the entire film, there is almost a “bromance” going on between Butch and Sundance and their undying loyalty to each other. Now, although we can’t know exactly how close those two were, the relationship could very well have been romantacised for the purposes of the film, making their friendship a major part of the plot. After all, after the gang goes their separate ways, Butch and Sundance stay together, along with Etta Place, and even travel to Bolivia with each other.

An article in The Guardian that actually looks at the film’s historical accuracy states “The film skips a respectable sojourn the real trio enjoyed running a ranch in Buenos Aires from 1901, because that would be boring.” actually agreeing with the point that the film does take creative liberties to show the protagonists in a nicer light and to make an entertaining film. However, also interestingly, some parts of the film that were deemed too “friendly” in an era of gritty westerns, such as blowing into the train and not killing the man on the train (Woodcock) (Image 2) are actually factually accurate, they DID even meet him twice during two separate train robberies showing that, though the film IS romanticised and has some elements and scenes thrown in for entertainment purposes and to show these two outlaws almost as heroes, some things like that can actually happen.

 

Bibliography

Historical facts found at:
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/cassidy.htm

Historical facts and facts about the movie found at:
http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/220486%7C0/The-Big-Idea-Butch-Cassidy-and-the-Sundance-Kid.html

Historical facts and a quote found at:
http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2013/jul/11/butch-cassidy-sundance-kid-reel-history

 

Production Planning: TV Programme Outline

Programme Title: ‘Spectacular Sciences’

Brief Outline: A science programme aimed at young people to encourage them to become rocket scientists.

Channel and rationale
: The programme would be shown on CBBC in the late afternoon, at about four or five, aiming to be on as the target audience are home from school, however allowing time for them to complete any homework they might have. The show aims to teach children science while being entertaining. It fits with the BBC’s mission to ‘enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain’ Scheduling this programme on CBBC makes it available to most TV owners while also making it obvious that the show is for children. The show will draw inspiration from the highly popular show Horrible Histories, such as narrative style, sketches, mini quizzes and songs. It will also have an interactive web page where children can play games, learn facts and watch clips. The show fulfils four of the BBCs six public purposes – ‘Sustaining citizenship and civil society’, ‘Promoting education and learning’, ‘Brining the UK to the world and the world to the UK’ and ‘Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services’.

Series length: 12 episodes in a series, with one musical episode at the end of each series. Each episode lasts around 28 minutes each.

Primary Audience: 11-16 year olds at school, with the aim to help them achieve good results by generating interest in how science can feature in their future
career plans.

Programme style: The style of the show and the programme structure will be designed to engage the target audience. The style will be fun, humourous, upbeat and informative sketches with a presenter linking them. The sketches and links will be well paced, but the show as a whole will be fast paced. The sketches would be filmed in multi cam. The linking segments could be filmed on one camera, however if they included a guest and an experiment, more cameras would be needed for the segment, so multicam is probably the better option. Unless the linking segments feature a guest and/or experiment, they wouldn’t really need to last anymore than a minute. Music would be involved and a fairly big part of the show. Music in the show would include a specially written theme song that relates to science, with a few facts in it, jingles for the links and songs for the musical sketches which would be either popular music with re-worked lyrics or songs based on popular music, most likely they will be songs based on others.. There will be a couple of multiple choice questions in each episode to encourage viewer interaction (As on Horrible Histories, CBBC). As the majority of the show is made up of sketches, only a simple studio is needed for the links, but should still have a science feel to it, being based on a lab or classroom. The show will use dialogue that children will understand and relate to while being careful to not talk down to them.

Programme structure: Each episode would focus on a particular bit of science. These would vary from a type of science (biology, chemistry, etc.), or a particular discovery or a particular scientist/etc. If there was a particular event going on, the episode would relate to that (e.g. there would have been an episode explaining the Large Hadron Collider scheduled near when they planned to begin the experiment). The show would have one young, relatable presenter.

Sketch lengths would vary but would all be average length for a comedy sketch and of good length to keep children interested, probably ranging from two to five minutes, the length and number of links would depend on how many sketches there are and how long they all are. As each episode is based around a particular person/subject, the presenter could be wearing appropriate clothes each week. Some weeks the presenter could have a guest and partake in an experiment, while the guest leads the way and explains what is happening and why, these experiments could range from dangerous and advances “Don’t try this at home” to simple experiments the children are encourages to try themselves, similar to Art Attack.

Each episode would tend to end on a muscal sketch, but it wouldn’t be a necessity.

When and if a comedy sketch tells an untrue fact, or states something untrue as a fact for the sake of comedy, it should be made clear that the untrue part isnt true, ways of doing this could be via a graphinc or a scrolling text ot via the presenter telling you so once the sketch has finished.

Each week could also feature a small amount of geography, such as informing the audience where people came from and what the place is like. The show could also feature some history, such as who discovered what when, etc.

It’s important that the sketches are entertaining, so that the children actually pay attention to what they’re being taught. The show should also be funny and entertaining as it needs keeps the children’s interest and attention so that they don’t turn the show off.

Taking inspiration from Brianiac: Science Abuse, Some of the experiments on the show could rather silly experiments, such as what fruits float, or they could be based on silly rumours, such as proving whether a not a ducks’s quack does, in fact, echo, etc.

Taking inspiration from the segments V-File and Mystery Lab from the children’s show Mystery Hunters, There could also be a section where young viewers of the show write in to and ask questions which the presenter could then answer, or possibly even prove. Viewers could also send in pictures and videos of their attempts of the experients shown on the show and whatnot.

At the end of each series, there would be a musical special which would be a collection of all the songs from the previous series, plus one extra song. The show could also have a christmas special, featuring fact from christmas related scientific facts, be it scientists born around christmas or experiments from previous christmases, etc.

Bibliography

BBC: Mission and values / BBC: Horrible Histories / Disney: Art Attack / Discovery Kids: Mystery Hunters

Primitives or Pioneers?

We can never truly know wheen the birth of cinema was. It is difficult to even establish what we actually mean by “The Birth of Cinema”, it could mean the first ever recorded moving images, or the first screening people paid to enter or the first official movie theatre.

For the purpose of this essay, I will be using 1985, the first time people paid to watch films. I will be looking at some of the films from early cinema (1895 – 1908) and considering the question “Primitives or Pioneers?”. I will be studying their methods and some of their work to determine whether I think that the early filmmakers methods were primitive or revolutionary.

Some of the most successful early pioneers in the early development of motion pictures were Thomas Edison and William Dickson from America and the Lumière Brothers in France. Their work was inspired by the motion capture work by Frenchman Étienne-Jules Marey and British photographer Eadweard Muybridge who provided the basis for motion picture photography and presentation. Marey and Muybridge’s techniques are still used in the capture and projection of modern motion pictures.

British photographer Birt Acres, together with electrical engineer Robert Paul developed their own motion picture camera (35mm camera) to create films for use with copies of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope. Acre’s and Paul’s brief partnership led to the production of the first successful British Film – “Incident at Clovelly Cottage” in March, 1895.

As technology advanced, filmmakers emerged. Cecil Hepworth and Edwin Porter led the way with Hepworth producing such early films as “How it Feels to be Run Over” (1900, United Kingdom) and “Rescued by Rover” (1905, United Kingdom) with Porter directing “The Great Train Robbery” (1903, United States) among others.

George Méliès, coming from a theatrical background, started making films combining film technique with the effects achievable from the theatre. His work led to some of the first ‘Special Effects’ in cinema in films such as “A Trip to the Moon” (1902, France). Méliès was also the subject for the 2011 Martin Scorsese film “Hugo” (2011, United States).

The Great Train Robbery is a ten minute American Western film written, produced and directed by Edwin Porter in 1903. Porter was a former camera man for Edison Studios, Thomas Edison’s company. He was also a fan of Méliès and tried to emulate the trick photography which Méliès had introduced to the world. The Great Train Robbery is cited as the first Epic Western, with a cast of forty actors working to an actual script.

When I watched The Great Train Robbery I noticed a few things about it, first of all, it had a set, meaning they didn’t film on location. This means they would have had to design, make and pay for a set. In the background, some of the sets had a window, through which you could see a train, however, I think the train looked like it was an odd angle through the window. There were also some shots with moving scenery in the background which didn’t look right to me which makes me think that these scenes were all filmed on a set with a screen of some sorts in the background.

There was also a point where one of the outlaws beat someone to death before throwing him off the train. Just before he throws the man off of the train, there is a very brief jump in the film before you can see the outlaw throw what is clearly a dummy off of the train. It’s a clever effect for such an early film.

There is some interesting colour play in the film, too. Only a few times but they have edited in some colour to the film. Things like the flash from a gun or explosion and women’s clothing have colour. It’s interesting to see that they chose to add colour to some things but not others, but also interesting to see that they added any in the first place.

Another interesting thing to note is that, in every shot you can see most, if not all of the set and the entirety of the actors bodies. This is probably because most of the people who worked on the earliest films came from a theatrical background, which could also explain the actors rather exaggerated performances.

I also feel that the sets all seems a little too large. This, and the exaggerated performances of the actors, can possibly be attributed to the theatrical backgrounds of most people who were involved in early films. An audience was used to seeing the whole scene at once, as an onlooker would, and subtle acting on stage would likely go unnoticed. (In silent films, exaggerated body language had to replace dialogue.)

Having also watched Rescued by Rover, what struck me as most interesting was this one shot where the father character (Played by director Cecil Hepworth) got into a boat to cross a short river. As the boat moves a bit to our right, the camera pans a little to follow him, this was most likely a pan made out of necessity, rather than artistic choice as back then, panning wasn’t a big thing.

I think that the early filmmakers were all primitives and pioneers all in their own rights. They clearly did some revolutionary things, such as panning, or playing with colour, or even some early effects, but they also hadn’t learned some, now seemingly obvious, techniques. Such as using constant wide shots to keep actors entire bodies in shot. However, without them, films definintely wouldn’t be where they are today.