With a lot of recent cinematic attention focused on silent film with “The Artist“, “Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s cinematic love letter to Georges Méliès, and Guy Maddin’s “Keyhole” and “Spiritismes” films, it seems only appropriate to revisit two other revolutionary silent film figures: The Lumière brothers.
On March 19, 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumière shot the first footage on their newly-designed and patented camera, the Cinematograph. Unlike Méliès, however, the Lumières didn’t see the true artistic revolution contained within moving images.
Their first film, “La Sortie des usines Lumière à Lyon” (or “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory”), was shot in 1894, though this film was not shot with the Cinematograph camera. On December 28th, 1895, the brothers debuted the first films shot with the new camera. The films that were exhibited on that historic day included: “Horse Trick Riders,” “Blacksmiths,” “Fishing for Goldfish,” “The Sprinkler Sprinkled,” “Baby’s Breakfast,” “Jumping Onto the Blanket,” “Cordeliers Square in Lyon” and “Bathing in the Sea.”
The Lumière brothers’ most famous film is most likely, “Arrival of a Train at the Station,” shot with the new Cinematograph. When screened to the earliest motion picture audiences, reportedly caused viewers to scatter in fright.
Although the Lumière brothers soon gave up making films, they did to create an early amalgamation of documentary and narrative, looking ahead to slapstick and documentary forms.
Watch a few of the brothers’ films below.