In oppositional to the popular story films
In the early 20th century, travelogues — otherwise known as ‘scenic films” — emerged as a popular and common form of film. Being a relatively ‘cheap’ form of entertainment, it was affordable to even the working class.
This meant that everyone could easily have access to these films. Travelogues were often classified under the genre of education films in order for the industry to legitimize its claim as a form of credible entertainment. However, Motography, an editorial, argues against this claim, saying that travelogues were primarily for aesthetic and entertainment purposes whilst it being an educational film was simply secondary.
Ishe explores travelogues in relation to its influence on the political and economic transformations of the time. Furthermore, the commodification of travel culture, capitalism and classism are explored. Travelogues portrayed global landscapes through the eyes of the screen and would evoke a sense of dreamlike travel for the viewer. These films incorporate traditional travel illustrations and paintings— such as postcards— but are significant for their time due to its ability to move. This creates a more accurate depiction of foreign life and culture. Reflecting the acceleration and quick change of the industrial era.
Meaning that although the places being recorded are real, they are only the idealized location that becomes their own universe on screen. A universe that is illustrated strictly within the restraints of the screen and in actuality is different from the real place. Since most of the audience could not afford to physically go travel they would go watch travelogues to experience foreign cities. This would invoke fear and generate fantasies within the audience, constructing their perceptions on the world.
Additionally, feeding their curiosity and crave to explore a world that they did not know. Ultimately, travelogues outlined the 20th century views of race and geography. Travelogues can be classified as a ‘minor cinema’ based upon the three qualities of Deleuze’s minor literature. Firstly, they are oppositional to the popular story films and can be used for minor purposes; notably as transition scenes. Secondly, they watch the scenic films with imperialistic values in mind, such as their colonial beliefs of industrialization as being the future. The mainly western audience watch these films with an imperial gaze based upon their stereotypical ideologies.
Lastly, these films are generally anonymously created, so there is less emphasis on the director or production being celebrated. Although travelogues had a imperialistic element they were also one of the only ‘genres’ to have people of colour in their films and not simply a terribly inaccurate representation. Within the theatre, it became a place where different cultures would meet — the foreign, on screen cultures and the western audience. As Mary Louise Pratt would describe it, theatres showing scenic films were Since this is happening in a virtual environment, it becomes a relatively ‘safe place’ to deal with conflict. The 20th century was a time marked by mass industrialization and urbanization.
Known as the Progressive Era in the United States, it saw a rise in new technology and cultural forms that changed societal values. By bringing the world to local movie theatres, scenics helped expand the lower class’ knowledge on many different cultures and lifestyles. The construction of the railroad became vital to allowing people the ability to travel new places. Travelogues, along with the development of the railroad, precipitated the commodification of travel. This shift from visual travel to physical was an idea inseminated by travelogues. Modern life was rapidly expanding.
With mass immigration and new innovations the world was becoming modern. As described in the reading, As leisure travel became popular due to the introduction of the railroad, the obvious difference between the wealthy and working class became apparent. The World’s Fair Exhibition helped increase tourism and Thomas Cook saw the potential of mass tourism would have in the future so he devised a way for the less wealthy to travel to the fair. Mobility held a huge importance to modernity in the 20th century as it made regular travel possible. It lead to the mass commodification of goods and services connecting cities and cultures to the individuals. This new ability to move to different cities made commodities physically consumable to the masses. Space and time became abstract as travelogues were technological travel in its own right.
A mass culture grew out of the increased travel and since then, tourism has grown into a very marketable industry.