After the First World War, when the Hollywood film industry turned out to be one of the winners in the battle for the partition of the world, film enthusiasts from many European countries, including Latvia, had to choose their own principles of filmmaking while realising that cinema as a space of entertainment had been fully occupied by American and German films. In Latvia, the ideological power of film, its compelling status as a witness of history, its educational and persuasive potential etc., have usually been arguments in favour of cinema's survival. Models of visual representation of the world used by Latvian cinema were derived from late 18th and early 19th century art when Enlightenment processes in culture inspired artists to take up the documentation of local life. Also, Latvian filmmakers in the 1920s and 30s tried to select characters whose outward appearance testified to their origins - in feature films, cultural films and especially in newsreels. People's visual features often related not to the present captured in film but to the past or some mythical time - a synthesis of past and present. Latvian cinema quite directly took over the iconography and composition of Realist painting typified by balance and centricity. The use of classical composition in early films allowed the public to perceive the new attraction - cinema - more easily, accepting it as a natural continuation of 19th century technical discoveries. This type of composition as well as classical drama schemes already appear in one of the very first movies - 'La Sortie des Usines' by the Lumiere brothers (1895).
Inga Perkone-Redovica, Department of Theatre and Audiovisual Arts, Latvian Academy of Culture, Ludzas Street 24, Riga LV-1003, Latvia
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