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Films before the 1920s.

See also: Films of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s.

Early Short Films (plus one major)

  • 1903 — Edwin Porter directed The Great Train Robbery (video link) at Edison's studio.
  • 1906 — The first ever feature-length film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, in 1906, "feature-length" meant about forty-five minutes long, which was still many times longer than any other film made at that point. (Interestingly, The Story of the Kelly Gang was originally planned as a short film, but its runtime ballooned out as the film-makers kept adding more and more footage.)
  • 1908-1914 — D.W. Griffith directed lots of short films, inventing and/or popularizing more Camera Tricks and other film tropes, such as:

Pre-1920 majors


  • D.W. Griffith directed the earliest feature films, including:
    • The Birth of a Nation — The movie that invented the feature film as we know it. Values Dissonance to the max today, but the first blockbuster hit at the time.
    • Intolerance — As advanced for its time as was Birth of a Nation; made to answer cries of racism that were already being thrown at Griffith, it was as big a flop as Birth was a hit.
    • Broken Blossoms — The most sympathetic portrayal of Asians for decades, and probably Griffith's triumph as a director of actors.


  • Charlie Chaplin produced and starred in a series of pioneering Slapstick comedies at Mutual studios and First National studios, including:


  • Anders als die Andern ("Different from the Others"), notable as the first film to argue for tolerance of homosexuality.
  • The Master Mystery
  • The Secret Garden — Starring Lila Lee.
  • The Sentimental Bloke — Australian classic, recently re-mastered and available on DVD.