Nowadays, within the cinematographic language, the spectators view a close-up in a natural way, but this was not always the case at the beginning of the cinema.Very influenced by the theater, the cinematographer in his first steps always presented the action through a fixed camera position that regularly covered all the action, in the form of a general shot. But in these origins, a series of filmmakers and directors soon appeared who, faced with the limitations offered by this form of audiovisual narrative, applied new resources typical of cinema, anticipating their time and establishing what would later become known in audiovisual language such as foreground . These British-born principals were known as the Brighton School .
George Albert Smith was one of the pioneers in this school to introduce the foreground in his films, just as Edwin S. Potter was in the United States . Although in the early days the inclusion of close-ups was justified as a different point of view from that of the action (introducing lock-type caches, magnifying glasses, binoculars, etc …), both directors managed to introduce this type of shot in its purest form as response to the narrative demands, almost always as detail shots that provided extra and important information to the viewer.
Magnifier grandmother of George Albert Smith
But as in many other areas, it was the American director DW Griffith who used the foreground to emphasize the expression of the characters, in the face of the reluctance of film producers, who insisted on not introducing them in their films, since they cut the characters’ bodies, giving an impression as if they were swimming or floating. Two capital films of the director within the History of Cinema, The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance , showed that those responsible for the studies were wrong.