Thomas Edison Had a Strong Impact on Adaptation Films

Do you know when the first adaptation film was made? That answer is unclear, but one thing is for certain. Thomas Edison changed the game for entertainment!

Book Culture Classics Horror Pop Culture Science Fiction TV & Movies
Thomas Edison- filming

Before the 1920s, a lot of films were lost throughout the years. Internet and thumb drives were not even invented. Nevertheless, I’ve compiled a few films that need to be recognized while also disclosing how we got from the beginning until now. To do that, we have to give props to Thomas Edison!

How Film Started

When you think of Thomas Edison, you should immediately think of the light bulb, right? No! He did so much more, but today we will discuss Thomas Edison’s invention of the first motion picture in America. The project was known as kinetophone, which are essentially images that can move through glass plates. With the help of W.K.L. Dickson, he quickly made another version, and this time they replaced the glass with film. In this case, the film is made of photos from thin transparent plastic strips. Edison then connected this process with a phonograph (a record player). With the two combined, it created a brand new invention.

He tested this new machine on October 6, 1889, and since then, film has become America’s prime resource of entertainment. It wasn’t immediate, but without the hard work of Edison, we wouldn’t be where we are today in filmmaking.

A few years later, filmmakers and artists began to pop out films like crazy.

Lost in Time

Once upon a time, films were silent, and they were only a few minutes long—some of these short silent movies derived from novels. Thus, the adaptation from books to the big screen was born.

Trilby book cover

Many silent films have since been lost in time. The earliest recount of an adapted film was Trilby and Little Billee (1896), based on the novel Trilby (1894) by George du Maurier. This was made only a few years after Edison created the first film! Since the release of this silent film, the world began to project more and more films– some coming from adaptations or from the creator’s minds.

It’s no surprise many movies get inspiration and interest from books.

The First of Many

Trip to the Moon movie screenshot.

the film-making

A few books inspired a Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) (1902): From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Around the Moon (1870) – both by Jules Verne, as well as The First Men in the Moon (1901) by H.G. Wells. It was considered the first sci-fi film, but most importantly, it was the first film to display in color. Everyone always assumes it was The Wizard of Oz (1939), but in reality, that was just the first movie that significantly impacted the film industry. Without L. Frank Baum, who wrote the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), there wouldn’t be such a well-rounded story in the first place.

Although in 1909, the first adapted feature-length film was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable (1862). It was originally separated into four reels, but it is considered a full feature when watched all together.

Picture of Frankenstein from 1910 adaptation. Made from Thomas Edison at his studio.

We can’t talk about movies in October without mentioning the first horror-adapted film. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) was the first horror movie adaptation. In 1910, Edison Studios produced the silent film and gave a sixteen-minute scare fest of the infamous Frankenstein.

Books have made such an impact in the film industry, and with the massive help from Thomas Edison’s determination to create the first picture, we wouldn’t be where we are today when it comes to movies and TV shows. We can now see our characters from the beautiful crisp pages on the big screen daily!

Want to read more about film adaptations? Click here!