Many film historians are of the opinion that apart from the invention of the cinema itself the introduction of sound was the most important event in the history of film. The conversion to sound radically changed the structure of the film industry and revolutionized the practice of cinematography all over the world. Despite the widely accepted importance of the conversion period in film history film historians did not show any real interest in the period until the late seventies. The so-called new film historians - many of them revisionist in nature - showed a remarkable interest in the period that had been so neglected by their predecessors. A film historiographic analysis shows that the revisionist historians were interested in the conversion period for three reasons: 1) some pragmatic/ strategic considerations; 2) improved analytical models showed that the conversion was a key era for analyzing the aesthetic evolution of the cinema; and 3) improved access to various primary sources in film archives facilitated research of important social technological and economic evolutions that took place during the conversion period.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Van den Vonder, Kurt. (2006). Van een klassieke naar een revisionistische blik. Het belang van de conversieperiode van de stille film naar de geluidsfilm in de filmgeschiedschrijving. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 9(1), 3–24. doi:10.18146/tmg.545