Author Archive: Francis Chapman

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

The Evolution of Serial Film Making

I will be talking about the evolution of serial films in this blog post and over the next few blog posts. I will touch on the evolutionary impact of serial films as technology furthered along through out the years. I feel that these posts are going to be a necessary resource for students and others that have obscure niche fascinations into the primitive years of the film industry.

I am going to break down my series of posts into sections over the next posts that are coming.

  • The Silent Era
  • The Sound Era
  • Post 1950’s Serials
  • and finally, The Machinima Era

I find very important to touch on this, because as you will see over the next few posts, the history of serial films and their famous and addictive cliffhanger’s at the end of each serial episode play into the what has influenced modern film making into the new age.

Today’s modern film making has kept the  serial film making spirit alive in part by including some key elements that make an exciting film and leave viewers wanting more at the edge of their seats. You can find out more from us and keep in touch with our posts about serial films and modern films in general. We will also be doing new posts on movie reviews and stuff. Keep in touch our email.

Source for research:


The most influential Cliffhanger Film

The Most Influential Cliffhanger Film


The cliffhanger film is one that is often part of a much
larger story. It is about people who are in particular situations where theyflash-gordon-restoredserials2
have to fight in order to make it out of certain situations that might be
dangerous. The most noteworthy thing about such a film is that it is one that
often has an ending where it is hard to figure out what will happen next.

Many cliffhanger films that are highly influential are
actually serials. These include films from the 1930s and 1940s that often
entailed twenty or thirty-minute run times where a longer story was to be told.
Many of these had endings that would lead into suspense and make people want to
see what would happen the next time around.

The most noteworthy and influential of these films was that
of the Flash Gordon series from Universal. This was introduced in 1936 as a
thirteen-installment series with each installment lasting about twenty minutes.

The series features Flash Gordon, a comic strip character
created by Alex Raymond. The series is about a mild-mannered American who is
brought into a fantastic intergalactic world where he meets Ming the Merciless,
an evil ruler of a strange planet.

The series featured plenty of amazing twists and turns as
Flash and two other travelers befriend many on the planet Mongo where Ming
rules all. As they travel around the planet, they come across many allies who
will help them to defeat Ming. But even with this, Ming and his armies are
willing to do what they can to capture and defeat Flash.

The series was popular for having many exciting cliffhangers
with each part always leading into something new and suspenseful. The variety
of stories involving great monsters, amnesia, secret lives and unique
motivations helped make the series popular.

The many charismatic and unique characters of the series
were also important inspirations to many other serials. Buster Crabbe’s role as
the dashing Flash Gordon especially inspired many filmmakers and actors.
Charles B. Middleton’s fiendish turn as Ming especially laid the blueprint for
how a traditional villain is to be played.

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Cliffhanger films/serials from the 1900’s and how they’ve influenced modern cinema

Soap Operas in early 1900’s were known for their exciting and dramatic ending at the end of an episode. This was done primarily to capture the imagination of audience and make them anxious about the next installment. This whole process came to be termed as a cliffhanger ending where the movie or serial ends on an abrupt note and raises tension and builds viewer curiosity. Cliffhanger ending was a popular phenomenon in movies in early 1900s and the trend faded away as the time passed by. But in late 70’s and early 80’s there were various TV series that exploited this technique and achieved tremendous success. With soaring popularity, dramatic endings became a tried and tested formula for success and modern cinema too started realizing the potential of a cliffhanger ending.

Cliffhanger endings and modern cinema –

More often than not a film is supposed to have a beginning, middle part and ending. But of lately, films have adopted the once famous cliffhanger technique and this helps them give a tantalizing and dramatic end to the story. With a sequel in the offering, the moviemakers get the liberty to add a twist in the end and make the movie ambiguous so as to retain viewer curiosity for the sequel part.

Cliffhangers have paved way for sequels – Sequels have become one of the most popular films making technique in today’s time. A fair percentage of movies in modern era are conceived along with its sequel and the plot is designed as such to give the movie a perfectly dramatic ending.

On one hand as the abrupt ending to the plot helps build viewer curiosity for the next part, it also gives filmmakers an opportunity to be more vocal about the subject and the story they are willing to tell.

Sequels help create more cinematic space for filmmakers and they get freedom to tell a story without comprising on fine detailing like characters as well as the story.

No more stress to make happy endings – Cinema for major part of its existence followed the tried and tested formula of happy ending. But with reintroduction of Cliffhanger endings, filmmakers got a sense of relief and pressure to end a movie a on a happy note was lessened to an extent.

Abrupt endings provide the directors and scriptwriters a chance to experiment with the plot as well as with characters. This helps the filmmaker give different dimensions to the story to stimulate viewer’s curiosity without limiting the scope of cinema to accommodate a happy ending.

Cliffhanger film techniques

Men are supposed to be the most curious of all beings and an abrupt end to a movie leaves them demanding for a sequel. This technique of cliffhanger ending is called Zeigarnik effect. This technique is used to leave the viewer with an incomplete scene and this helps build viewer curiosity while maintaining the suspense within the plot.

Cliffhanger endings of late have gained tremendous popularity and films like Harry Potter and Twilight have used the technique to create a sequel for their film franchise. Abrupt and dramatic endings have come to be known as a potent tool for storytelling and it surely has a bright future.

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