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Chronomedia 1924

Predictions from 1924

D W Griffith
1875-1948; pioneer American film director
I am quite positive that when a century has passed, all thought of our so-called speaking pictures will have been abandoned. It will never be possible to synchronise the voice with the pictures. ...
        One hundred years hence, I believe, the airline passenger lines will operate motion-picture shows on regular schedule between New York and Chicago and New York and London.
‘The Movies One Hundred Years From Now’, in Colliers, 3 May 1924

R W Hallows MA
Writer on technology
Twenty years ago or even less people flocked to see a magic lantern display, looking upon it as little short of miraculous. To-day we regard the magic lantern as quite a back number beside the the cinematograph, which throws upon the screen not mere still pictures, but those which show every action just as it takes place. In two or three years—it will be no more than this—the cinematograph in its present form will seem as much out of date as the magic lantern does now. We shall not be content to see records of events that happened some time ago; we shall want to see upon the screen the things that matter at exactly the same time as they take place.
        Let us imagine we are visiting a picture theatre one evening in 1926. The theatre itself is very much the same as those that we know to-day, but there is one exception. There is no orchestra, nor is there even a pianist to provide the music. But that does not mean that the pictures are to be presented with no musical accompaniment. In fact, as we enter, the place is filled with delightful strains, which issue from the horn of a great loud-speaker placed at one side of the screen. The piece reaches its final chords as we take our seats, and we learn from the voice of the distant announcer that it was played in some far-away city.
        As the music ends, a second loud-speaker at the other side of the screen strikes up. Its duty is not to deliver music, but to give us, as we shall see, the words of speakers and the blending sounds of thousands of voices that have been borne through the ether from vast distances in a fraction of a second.
        "Ladies and gentlemen," says a voice, each syllable being audible in every corner of the great theatre, "it is one minute to ten. At ten o'clock the principals in the great fight for the middle-weight championship of the world will enter the ring here in New York." As the voice ceases we can hear the confused murmuring of the enormous crowd which is waiting 4,000 miles away to witness the contest. And now the screen is illuminated. Upon it appears, beautifully clear, a picture of the ring with its rope barriers surrounded by tier upon tier of men and women in the closely-packed arena. ...
        Every phase of the fight is as clear to us as though we were sitting in the most expensive seats by the very ring side. We follow its changing fortunes to the very end, and as one of the men lies huddled up and motionless upon the boards we see the referee's beating hand and hear his voice as he counts out the vanquished.
        Remember that we have been witnessing not a fight that took place a fortnight previously, or even on the day before; the events that we have just seen upon the screen took place in America practically at the same time as we saw them. Actually the difference in time is about one forty-fifth of a second, for that is all that ether waves require to cross 4,000 miles of land and sea.
        During the afternoon this same cinematograph has been showing football matches as they actually took place. The audience has seen as well, and grown just as excited , as if it had been upon the football ground itself, and not within the four walls of a theatre miles away. Thrilling finishes on the racecourse have been thrown upon the screen, not silently, but with the accompanying roar that comes from thousands of throats when the horses enter the straight.
        As an interlude the pictures have taken the audience into the hunting field with some famous pack, where is sees the fox, the hounds, and the riders, hears the huntsman's "Gooone away" and the sound of his horn. All through the afternoon and evening interesting and exciting events at home and in foreign countries are shown at the very moment of their occurrence. ...
        All this may sound fantastical to us at present, but there is nothing impossible or even unlikely in it. Still pictures have already been sent with great success by wireless, and from the still to the moving is but a step. Thousands of fertile brains are engaged now upon the problems of transmitting by wireless scenes such as those which we have described. No one can doubt that in a very short time now their efforts will lead to complete success. ...
        The wireless musical cinema will be a wonderful institution, for it will annihilate distances in this world of ours. Australia was once four or five months away by sailing ship. To-day the fast steamer has brought it to within only a few weeks. In a year or two it will be but a fifteenth of a second from us; words spoken or actions that take place there, will be brought to our ears and our eyes in that time by the loud-speaker and the projector of the wireless musical cinema, not only in public places of entertainment, but actually in our own homes.
'The Wireless Musical Cinema: A peep into the future' in "Broadcast Listeners" Year Book 1924 London: Radio Press, 1924]

Chronomedia 1924

Page updated 15 April 2008
David Fisher