Watch 100 Years of Cinematic Special Effects in 5 Minutes

king kong 100 years of special effects

Cinematic special effects have gotten so realistic that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between real footage and computer graphics. But, as anyone who’s seen a movie made prior to the last 20 years can attest, it’s been a long road. The history of special effects is amazing, and could take all day to read through. But there’s no need to wade through hours of history when you can watch 100 years of special effects in just five minutes.

This short film was originally created as an introduction to a lecture being given to a group of fifth-graders. It doesn’t take much to impress a 10-year-old, but the special effects highlighted here are from some of the most influential films of the last century. The early effects look positively primitive when put next to the special effects of today. The films featured at in the video are: The Enchanted Drawing (1900),  The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Ten Commandments (1923), Sunrise (1927), King Kong (1933), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Forbidden Planet (1956), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), Star Wars (1977), Tron (1982), Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Abyss, (1989), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Spider-Man 2 (2004), King Kong (2005), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), The Golden Compass (2007), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button(2008).

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See more in Vintage Videos or under Vintage & Retro. November, 2009.