Evolution Of The New Short Film Genre

The “Emerging Genre” of the Cinematic Poem Short Film is an important evolution in the history of HD Film and Video.  These unique short films will be generally:

  • 5-minutes or less in duration;
  • Original Footage Shot with High Definition (HD) technology;
  • Scored with an original, classical or orchestrated musical piece;
  • Original Recording/Interview  or Professional Narration from an original and/or written work of prose or poetry.

A young director, James W. Griffiths,  has produced two masterful, recent Cinematic Poem Short Films since 2012:

“We Were Wanderers On A Prehistoric Earth” (2012);

Wanderers Slide
Click to View Short Film

and “A Solitary World” (2014).

Solitary World Griffiths
Click to View Short Film
Brain Pickings
Click “Cinematic Poetry” To Read Full Review

The original Cinematic Poem Short Film may be the 2006 HD Movie Trailer for “The Fountain”, spectacularly edited from the feature film  directed by Darren Aronofsky. The film blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction:

Fountain Trailer Best
Click to View Short Film

In 2011, Director Terrence Malick chronicled the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man’s childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas with his epic experimental drama “The Tree Of Life”. The theatrical trailer is a stunning example of a Cinematic Poem Short Film:

The Tree of Life Terrence Malick 2011 Trailer
Click to View Short Film

Cinematic Poem Short Films can also be sourced to the “Abstract Film” from director Ron Fricke, “Chronos”,  released in IMAX theaters in 1985.  The trailer can be viewed below:

Chronos IMAX Film 1985
Click to View Short Film

The filmmaking duo of Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson further developed the Cinematic Poem with two visually stunning films. First, the digitally remastered theatrical film trailer of the movie “Baraka” (1992):

Baraka Film Trailer 2001
Click to View Short Film

The second Fricke-Magidson film was “Samsara”. The beautiful theatrical trailer can be seen below:

Samsara Movie Trailer 2011
Click to View Short Film

The origins of short film poems can be traced to the “golden age of American animation” which began with sound cartoons in 1928 and continued into the 1960’s.

The Tell-Tale Heart was a 1953 American animated short film directed by Ted Parmelee and narrated by James Mason. The screenplay by Bill Scott and Fred Grable is based on the 1843 short story by Edgar Allan Poe:

The Tell-Tale Heart short Film by Ted Parmelee
Click to View Short Film

In 1962, Ray Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson adapted Ray’s short story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” into a screenplay for an animated short. Animation studio Format Films produced the film.  Joseph Mugnaini created the artwork for the 18-minute film:

Icarus Montgolfier Wright Ray Bradbury Format Films 1962 Title
Click to View Short Film

In 1967, Simon Gribben was a film writer/editor for Tel Ra Productions in Philadelphia making syndicated American Football League highlights. He produced “The Raven”, a “Parody Poem” based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, which was narrated by the NFL game announcer Charlie Jones, as an audition piece for NFL Films, where he was hired. Watch the film here:

The Raven 1967 NFL Film Poem by Simon Gribben
Click to View Short Film

In 1999, the Cinematic Poem Short Film further evolved when “The Periwig-Maker”, a cinematic narrated stop motion animation short film based on the novel, “A Journal of the Plague Year”,  written by Daniel Defoe, was released . It received a 2000 BAFTA-award for Best Animated Short and was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2001 Academy Awards.  The film was produced by Ideal Standard film, directed by Steffen Schäffler and narrated by Kenneth Branagh:

The Periwig-Maker Short Film 1999 Daniel Defoe Book Kenneth Branagh Narrated
Click to View Short Film

CinematicPoems.com will continue to update the history of the genre in the coming months.

Laguna Beach, CA

7 thoughts on “Evolution Of The New Short Film Genre”

  1. Hello, I really like your blog and have a content suggestion. I posted it here as I could not find a contact form.

    vimeo.com/91685304

    This film trailer is the story of our five month experience connecting to nature as we walked more than 2500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.

    We are making this film for our love of wilderness, and it will be available free online this fall. We would really appreciate you sharing our message of conservation and appreciation for the natural world. You can learn more at onlytheessential.com

    Thanks, Colin!

  2. Hi there… You were a great fan of my infrared short “Hawaiian Tree Bones” last summer and I thought you would absolutely love this latest cinematic poem I just finished. “Mountains Made of Chalk, Fall into the Sea, Eventually.” It’s a guided visual meditation on the ephemeral nature of being.

    The synergy of creative collaboration can result in magic beyond our imagining. Witnessing Genna Panzarella paint this 8×10′ mural of Mt. Tamalpais as it was when it was whole, literally inside of what used to be the mountaintop, is akin to stealing a peek through the kimono of mystery… the misty mystery of impermanence.

    The project bears a great resemblance to the process of making a Tibetan Buddhist sand painting (and then blowing it away).

    You are welcome to link to it in your blog if you feel that it would be a worthy addition to it.

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An Important Emerging Creative Short Film Genre.

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