The Photoplay  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hugo Münsterberg's study The Photoplay (Das Lichtspiel: eine psychologische Studie, 1916). Münsterberg argues that film (which were called photoplays at the time) is a unique medium because it speaks the language of the mind. For example, he equates the close-up with the act of attention and the flashback with the act of memory. His writings are fascinating accounts of the psychological elements of film and provide insight into the reception of film as art at the beginning of the 20th century.

On film censorship and media influence he argues:

"Those may have been exceptional cases only when grave crimes have been traced directly back to the impulses from unwholesome photoplays, but no psychologist can determine exactly how much the general spirit of righteousness, of honesty, of sexual cleanliness and modesty, may be weakened by the unbridled influence of plays of low moral standard. All countries seem to have been awakened to this social danger. The time when unsavory French comedies poisoned youth lies behind us. A strong reaction has set in and the leading companies among the photoplay producers fight everywhere in the first rank for suppression of the unclean. Some companies even welcome censorship provided that it is high-minded and liberal and does not confuse artistic freedom with moral licentiousness. Most, to be sure, seem doubtful whether the new movement toward Federal censorship is in harmony with American ideas on the freedom of public expression.""


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Photoplay" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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