A Century Ago on Film

The cinematic art is just barely old enough for centenaries. After all, the oldest movie to still retain some popularity as entertainment, “A Trip to the Moon,” is only 105 years old.

On December 6, the Rafael will look back at the year 1907 in a collection of shorts that promise to capture that transitional year. Okay, 1907 was probably no more transitional than 1906 or 1908, but every year meant big changes back then. Kalem and Essanay both went into business that year. D. W. Griffith first appeared in front of a camera (it would be 1908 when he stepped behind it and really made history). The selection includes trick films, actualities (today we’d call them cinéma vérité), and something called “An Awful Skate, or The Hobo on Roller Skates.”

The California Film Institute (which runs the Rafael) promises 35mm prints (in most cases) from the Academy Film Archive, the Library of Congress, George Eastman House and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Michael Mortilla will accompany the movies on the piano. The CFI hopes this becomes an annual event.