Underground Film Journal

Underground Film Timeline: 1900 — 1919

Below is a list of significant events and films in underground film history between the years 1900 and 1919.

Click each film still for a larger version, or go straight to the 1900–1919 Film Still Gallery.

Reference key:
D.C: David Curtis. Experimental Cinema. New York: Dell Pub., 1978.
D.E.J.: David E. James. The Most Typical Avant-garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California, 2005.
F.S.: Frank Stauffacher. Art in cinema; a symposium on the avantgarde film. New York: Arno Press, 1968. (reprint from 1947)
P.A.S.: P. Adams Sitney. Visionary Film: the American Avant-garde, 1943-2000. New York: Oxford UP, 2002.
S.R.: Sheldon Renan. An Introduction to the American Underground Film. New York: Dutton, 1967.

1900

Major Events:

Robert Florey is born. (D.E.J.)

1904

Major Events:

Gregg Toland is born in Illinois. (D.E.J.)

1905

Significant Films:

France:

Ferdinand Zecca:
Scenes of Convict Life (F.S.)
A Father’s Honor (F.S.)

1906

Significant Films:

France:

Ferdinand Zecca:
Whence Does He Come? (c1906) (F.S.)
Slippery Jim (c1906) (F.S.) (WATCH)

1907

Major Events:

Alexander Hackenschmied is born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. (He would later change his name to Alexander Hammid.) (P.A.S.) (D.E.J. does not note the city.)

Significant Films:

France:

Emile Cohl:
Drame chez les fantoches (F.S.)

Ferdinand Zecca:
Fun After the Wedding (c1907) (F.S.)

1909

Drawing of a scientist giving a lecture

Significant Films:

U.S.:

Winsor McCay:
Gertie the Dinosaur (F.S.)

France:

Emile Cohl:
Joyeux microbes (S.R.)

1912

Man creeps into tech room with giant clock

Significant Films:

France:

Jean Durand:
Onésime Horloger (S.R.) (F.S. lists 1908)

1913

Significant Films:

France:

Louis Feuillade:
Fantômas (S.R.)

1915

Woman in bat costume stretches her wings

Significant Films:

France:

Louis Feuillade:
Les Vampires (DVD) (S.R.)

Abel Gance:
La Folie du Docteur Tube (D.C.) (S.R. lists as 1916)

1916

Major Events:

Boris Deutsch comes to the U.S. from Germany. (D.E.J.)

1917

Major Events:

Maya Deren is born as Eleanora Derenkowsky in Kiev. (D.E.J.)

Significant Films:

France:

Germaine Dulac:
Ames de Fous (D.C.)

Louis Feuillade:
Judex (S.R.)

1919

 

Major Events:

Louis Delluc founds serious film criticism in France. (S.R.)

Homeless woman cradling her son

Dimitri Kirsanov moves to Paris to study the cello. (D.C.)

Boris Deutsch moves to Los Angeles. (D.E.J.)

Significant Films:

France:

Germaine Dulac:
La Fête Espagnol (D.C.)

Abel Gance:
J’Accuse (DVD) (S.R.)