Tag Archives: Early cinema

This Day in History 12/28: The Birth of Commercial Motion Pictures

With all the hype of the holiday films this year, it’s good to see what really started all this in the first place.

On December 28, 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, two early French filmmakers, gave a for-profit exhibition of their works in Paris.  Their total runtime: about 6 minutes for 10 films average less than a minute each.  We’re not talking epic filmmaking, but rather small snippets of everyday life: a train, a family eating, a gardener, builders, etc. 

Though they did not invent motion pictures, the Lumieres were the first to exhibit their work for a price, thus beginning the modern motion picture industry.  Attached is a selection of their early works that were shown in 1895.  If you show them to students, a few points to remember:

(1) There was no soundtrack, originally.  Turn down the volume to get the same effect.

(2) The next big motion picture moment was the Edison company’s 1901 “epic” The Great Train Robbery.  It was considered “too long” at 11 minutes.

(3) The audiences would shit in their pants, literally, at seeing these images.  Ask your students the last time a film made them empty their colon.

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