from American Memory, Library of Congress

This film, "the Burning Stable," was made by the Edison company in 1896. It's typical of the very earliest films in that it uses a single camera, without cuts, zooms, or any of the dynamic techniques we now expect from movies. It tells only a very simple story, from one point of view. Audiences liked it because it showed them a record of an actual event—much as we enjoy watching videotapes of events we experience. Film historians call these films "actualities."