On this day, 116 years ago, the French capital experienced the first commercial movie screening of films made by brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere. Let's take another journey back to the early days of filmmaking and learn more about the work of the Lumiere Brothers.
Paris is a city of many historical landmarks, events, and milestones, among them filmmaking. On December 28, 1895, French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere, ranked among the very first movie-makers, screened the first commercial films in history and charged admission for the first time.
The early days of filmmaking can be traced back to the 1830’s, with the earliest inventions being Joseph Plateau’s Phenakistoscope (and also a similar device by Simon von Stampfer called stroboscopic disk), Eadweard Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope, and Thomas Edison’s Kinetograph camera and Kinetoscope peep-hole viewer. When Antoine Lumiere, the father of the Lumiere Brothers, saw a demonstration of Edison’s motion picture device in 1894, he was impressed, yet reportedly told his sons that they could create something better.
Taking the elder Lumiere’s advice, Louis came up with the Cinematographe, a combination of a camera and projector. Patented in 1895, Louis Lumiere’s invention could display moving images on a screen and made public viewing possible. Their first film, La Sortie des usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), which ran for 46 seconds, was showcased during the unveiling of the Cinematographe to the public in March 1895.
The Lumiere Brothers held their first paid private screening at Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris, featuring their first film and nine other short films showing scenes from everyday life in France. A year later, the brothers opened their own movie theaters called cinemas, where they showcased their work and featured movies filmed by their cameramen around the world.
Watch the brothers’ first short movie below: