Everything You Need To Know About The Silent Era Of Serial Films

Everything You Need To Know About The Silent Era Of Serial Films

Silent films is referred as lack of synchronized sound in a film and it was first introduced in the late 19th century, when silent film paved way to the “talkies”. But nevertheless, early cinema was way too far from silent films in other respects. As early as 1920’s, films were being accompanied with some live music ranging from reed organs or single piano to large orchestras being played at the theater. The location and nature of the venue were also ranged from a small store-front theater to 100-seat picture palaces.

How Silent Films Gained popularity

Silent film later adapted most of their representational techniques. As the period developed, the silent film industry worked conscientiously to become more famous and respectable as it seeks to dissociate its products from that of nickelodeons or vaudeville houses. The silent era of serial films were comprising of a collection of short subjects which were exhibited in a consecutive manner at one theater hall, and generally advancing weekly til the series is completed. Each serial involved one set of characters, antagonistic as well as protagonist .

Each chapter was then screened at a theater for about a week and it mostly ended with cliffhanger in which it left the characters in perilous situations without any chance of escaping. Viewers were expected to return to the theatre every week just to see how the cliffhangers will be resolved and also to follow up the continuing storyline. Movies serials were commonly popular with young kids and youths.

Most serial films were westerns because they were not expensive to film and besides that, they were also covering a lot of genres which included

· Comic book

· Crime fiction

· Comic strip characters

· espionage

· science fiction

· jungle adventures and many more

Even though most of these film serials were economically filmed, some were created at a very significance expense.

The Cue Sheets

Some of the studio releases at that particular time also came with a specifically-composed musical score, but most of them came with cue sheets which had suggested musical themes designed for specific scenes. Most often, solo artists improved at reading and understanding the visual cues of film improvised musical score instantaneously and exhibitors were seen to publish different collection of sheet music that were relevant for stock-scene types. Theaters in the silent era could use lectures or disruptive talkers to narrate the film.

The evolution of film industry’s structure was very complex especially during silent era of the serial films which is marked by refinements in exhibition, distribution and cinematic production that brought together the feature film.

Here is a Youtube video of the film Perils of Pauline as an example.


The significance of this film era can never be overstated in the film history. During the early decades of the 20th century, another new commercial are emerged which bound closely to modern America. With the enlargement of synchronized sound, silent film era slowly began to lose its popularity, but luckily the modes of distribution, production, consumption and exhibition that inaugurated during the serial films and the silent movie error persisted, therefore creating the current film industry that we know it nowadays.


Shout out to my friends dad Mike “the best plumber Hollywood FL” for helping me look through your old vintage serial film collection as research for these articles for my school project. Much appreciated. If you want to reach out to me about the project I’m working on to help or have questions contact me here

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