This Day in the Arts — January 9 in Film History

Abgerissene Tage eines Kalenders

On January 9, 1894, Fred Ott sneezed. That rather ordinary event was made extraordinary because Thomas Edison captured the achoo! on film, or rather, kinetoscope. It was one of a series of short films he made in that time period, but this one has gone down in film history as the first film copyrighted in the United States.

I’m not sure there is any easy way of determining how many films have been copyrighted in the United States since then, but a search of imdb, the Internet Movie DataBase for movies released in the U.S. — just in 2012 — yielded 16,827 titles.

Think of all the creativity that went into the films that span the decades since Fred Ott’s sneeze. Admittedly, the films weren’t all of stellar quality, but just think of all the ideas and images that have been projected onto movie screens since those first kinetoscope flickerings. Think of the history that has been recorded, the drama that has been enacted, the laughter that has lightened lives. Think of all that has been added to the common experience, the common lexicon, through film. How much we would miss without this art form.

And it got its start in things as common as a sneeze.


17 thoughts on “This Day in the Arts — January 9 in Film History”

  1. Have you ever seen Singin’ In The Rain? (One of my absolute favorite movies of all time!) Your post makes me think of the beginning when the guy is explaining the concept of talking pictures 🙂 Thanks for this interesting tidbit, Beth!

    1. I may have seen it way back in the mists of time, but I can’t recall anything but the iconic scene of Gene Kelly dancing along the curb, which has, of course, been repeated in so many places that it is part of the social consciousness. That’s cool! Thanks, Susanna!

  2. *peeks head out of writing cave*

    Now that is something i definitely did not know. From a sneeze to mechanical heroes that transform to save the day. Talk about progress.

    1. It’s definitely an oddity, as facts-in-history go. Actually, I thought I’d discovered a wonderful factoid in the area of music to share today, then realized I’d done my search for the 8th instead of the 9th. Next year, you’ll get to read the music fact!

    1. Amazing what came after that, isn’t it, Mary? (And my punning brain just thought of something that I need to apologize for before I write it… what came after it is nothing to sneeze at!)

  3. What an interesting factoid. A sneeze! Who knew! Tickled about the research you do for your posts. You’ve even inspired Lady Joanna with a pb idea. Ideas are sparked, encouraged, and created all over the place in so many ways. Here’s to the Arts!

    1. These are turning out to be fun — but I wondered what on earth I’d post for today, then thought “the sneeze will have to do.” Seems to have been fun for people. Here’s to the Arts!

  4. What an interesting fact. Did you know that in Raider’s of the Lost Ark (Indiana Jones), when Indiana shot the guy with the sword, it was a last resort? There was supposed to be a huge swordfight, but the actor for Indy had diarrhea and he thought (pretty much) ‘I have a gun, so why not shoot him?’ and he did! 🙂

  5. HAA! So cool!!!!
    Nothing like movies. I wonder what the world would be like today if movies had been invented when Marie Antoinette was around. Or Shakespeare!
    LOVE this post, Beth!!!!

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