On December 28, 1895, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière presented a screening of 10 films at Le Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. This was one of the key events in the history of the motion picture: not the first time that an audience had paid to see a film – Edison’s Kinetoscope had already become quite popular by that point – and not the first time that a movie had been projected on a screen in front of an audience (for the earliest versions of motion photography were all limited to one viewer at a time).
It was, however, on that winter day 115 years ago that the Lumières and their short program invented the idea of the cinema: a room where strangers would all gather together to sit in the dark and pay to watch movies together. It was the ideal culmination to a year in which the art of the motion picture advanced more than it ever would in any subsequent 12-month span.
I would like to take you on a trip back that revolutionary event, when the great art form of the 20th Century, the most important vehicle of entertainment in my lifetime and probably yours, was born. For maximum effect, turn off all the lights and surround yourself with Frenchmen who are absolutely flabbergasted by what they’re seeing.
1. La sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon)
2. La voltige (Horse Trick Riders)
3. La pêche au poissons rouge (Fishing for Goldfish)
4. Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon (The Photographic Congress Arrives in Lyon)
5. Les forgerons (The Blacksmiths)
7. Repas de bébé (Baby’s Dinner)
8. Le saut à la couverture (Jumping on the Blanket)
9. La Place des Cordeliers à Lyon (Cordeliers’ Square in Lyon)
10. La mer (The Sea)