Perhaps Chinese spectators' first glimpse of the new medium was something like Edison's 1898 short below, of a parade by overseas Chinese in San Francisco.
As a result of this sort of cultural positioning, the first Chinese movies were simply recordings of already-popular Chinese art-forms, like Beijing opera, and so movies appeared to be a curiosity (and cheaper than going to see a real opera), but not anything portending a step-change in "serious" art. Filmmaking suffered from a lack of investment, and it was held in low regard. Writes Jubin: "Film screenings were inserted between fireworks and conjuring, both traditionally seen as trivial, low culture entertainment... They saw film as a plaything."
|The Orphan (1929)|