The site represents "work in progress". The original idea for this format came from a piece that I wrote for a book on 100 years of cinema published in Bangalore, South India in May 2014. I was asked to select, and comment upon, just twenty European films - the twenty films that appear below. Clearly twenty films is far too few to give a truly representative picture of European cinema and it is intended that the site should eventually cover somwhere between 100 and 200 films. I am interested here less in the individual films themselves (or the individual film-makers) and more in the "story" of cinem that lies behind them. They are simply the "pegs" upon which I wish to hang that story.
Birt Acres> (1854-1918), born in the US of British parents, led a romanesque early life partly in Paris and partly in the Dakotas and Alaska, before establishing himself in Britain as a photographer. In 1895 he teamed up with electrical instrument-maker Robert W.Paul and developed a more lightweight camera with which he filmed the seascape Rough Sea at Dover which caused a sensation when first exhibited in the US in April 1895. He also developed his own projector, the Kineoptikon, but he and Paul argued about the rights over the various patented machines and, while Paul went on to profit from the improved projection system, Acres' contribution was for many years largely forgotten.
Annabelle [Whitford Moore] (1878-1961) was born in Chicago, daughter of a Civil War veteran, and made her debut at the age of fifteen dancing at the World Exposition in Chicago in 1893, where she was billed as 'the Peerless Annabelle". She was still only sixteen when she made her first films for Thomas Edison and William Kemedy Laurie Dickson in 1894. All were imitations of the "free dance" forms popularised by Loie Fuller. When Dickson left Edison to join Mutoscope in 1896, Annabelle seemingly went with him, as the dancer in the Edison version of Serpentine Dance shown at the Vitascope launch that year was not a blonde (aaccording to the Vnezuelan press later in the year, she was a "Miss Julia"). She certainly remade Serpentine Dance for Dickson at Mutoscope and, with Mutoscope beating a patriotic refrain (in part to distinguish themselves from the Lumière operators then enjoying a consdierable success in the USA) she also shot a Tambourine Dance and a Flag Dance where she dressed in American colors of stars and stripes and waved the flag while she danced. The sale of her films was further boosted in December 1896 when it was revealed that she had been approached to appear naked at a private dinner party at Sherry's Restaurant in New York. In 1897 Annabelle was back with Edison remaking the same dances as before, this time for James White. In 1902 she features as a "mermaid" dancing among auqrium-fishes in a trick film made by Mutoscope and this esems to have been her last film appearance, She returned to the stage and was playing in Mr. Bluebeard in Chicago at the time of the Iroquois Theatre Fire of 1903. Spotted by Florenz Ziegfield, she appeared as the original "Gibson Bathing Girl" in the first Ziegfeld Follies of 1907 and was later also the original "Nell Brinkley Girl". She remained with The Follies until her marriage to Dr. Edward James Buchan in 1912, when she retired from the stage. He died in 1958 and she died three years later.
André Antoine (1858-1943), born in Limoges, was an amateur actor and a close collaborator of the French novelist Émile Zola in 1887 when he founded le Théâtre Libre, a movement devoted to reforming the French theatre in line with the principles of naturalism as defined by Zola in his Le Roman expérimental (1989). He was, as far as we know, the first theatre-producer to describe himself as a « metteur en scène » (literally "putter in scene", a term now in general use in French both for theatre producers and cinema directors. The importance given to mise en scène derived from the naturalists' aim to enahnce relaism with a greater emphasis on context (social and psychological). Antoine was successively manager of the Théâtre Antoine (1897-1906) and the Théâtre de l'Odéon (1906-1914). He went on to make several films (1915-1922)under the aegis of the Société cinématographique des auteurs et gens de lettres (SCAGL) de Pierre Decourcelle and has been called, by one French critic at least (Jean Tulard), "the father of neo-realism". His film L'Hirondelle et la Mésange (1920) is particualrly interesting because, although it is a fiction, it was never released by Charles Pathé, responsible for distribution of the SCAGL films, on the grounds that it was too much like a documentary film. The film has however survived in splendid condition and was redisocovered and shown for the first time by the Cinémathèque française in 1982.
Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly (1832-1912) was the favourite "son" of the founder of the Augustins de l'Assomption (Assomptionistes), Emmanuel d'Alzon and appointed by him to the Paris community of St. Francis where he set up the Catholic publishing house set up La Bonne Presse (later Bayard) and founded the newspaper La Croix of which he was also the editor under the nom de plume "Moine". Bailly was both an enthusiast of technology and a firm believer in the power of the image and Bailly was both an enthusiast of technology and a firm believer in the power of the image. and in 1895 charged the writer and lanternist G.-Michel Coissac with the supervision of the "service de projections lumineuses" and of all La Bonne Presse's audiovisual activities. Although a virulent anti-semite, Bailly made frequent visits to the Holy Land and was eager to make a version of the Passion of Christ that was at least in part shot there. He and Coissac appear to have contacted the film-maker Léar with a view to making such a film but in the event it was shot 1903-1906 by two priests and eventually appeared in 1906.
André Bazin (1918-1958) was a French critic and the founder, with others, in April 1951,of Les Cahiers du cinéma. Among his best-known works are his contribution to the collective volume La politique des auteurs in 1972 and the four-volume Qu'est-ce que le cinéma ? (1958-1962). he did not live to see the arrival of "the new wave", many of whom (including Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and Chabrol) had been contributors to Les Cahiers and on whose theories of cinema he had had a decisive influence.
David Belasco (1853-1931),born in San Francisco, was a playwright and theatre impressario who wrote, directed, or produced more than 100 Broadway plays. More than forty films have been based on Belasco plays including Buster Keaton's Seven Chances (1925). Many prominent performers sought the opportunity to work with Belasco,among them a young Mary Pickford. Cecil B. DeMille and his brother William who both worked with Belasco before working in films. Belasco brought a new standard of naturalism to the American stage and developed stage lighting and atmospheric techniques that DeMille would later use in his films.
Claude-Ferdinand von Bernard (Ferdinand or Fernand Bon Bernard), a shadowy figure, was an Argentinian businessman who became the Lumière concessionaire in Mexico in 1896, travelling there in August with the cinematographer Gabriel Veyre. Von Bernard requested and received a second camera from France so that films could continue to be made in Mexico City while Veyre travelled, suggesting that Benard himself was closely involved in the films taken by Veyre in Mexico City. By the time that Veyre returned to Mexico, after a troubled tour of Central and South America, the Lumières were winding down their operations in the Americas and Bon Bernard had closed the office and made off with the dsecond camera.
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1928) was perhaps the greatest French actress of her day. Shetook a keen interst in cinema, harbouring a hope that it would suitably immortalise her performances although in practice she was often disappointed by the results. She first appeared on film in 1900 in the duel scene from Hamlet, in a part she had first played on the stage in the 1880s and revived in 1899. The film formed part of the programme of the the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre devsied by Clément-Maurice for the Paris Exposition of 1900, for which Bernhradt also modelled the poster designed by François Flameng,which shows her in the role of Tosca. A film of Tosca ws made with her in the lead role in 1909 but she disliked the result and demanded that the film be destroyed. In 1912 she did however appear as Camille in a 1912 film of La Dame aux camélias and as Queen Elizabeth in La Reine Élisabeth. In 1915 he right leg had to be amputated but,although she refused to wear any prosthesis, she continued to actin parts where she could remain seated. When she died in 1923, she was in the middle of making the film La Voyante for US director Leon Abrams.Despite her death, the films was compleetd but is now believed lost.
Herbert Blaché (1882-1953) was born in London, son of a British actress married to a Frenchman. Moving to France, he worked as a cameraman for the Gaumont company and in 1907 married the company's head of production, Alice Guy. They went to the USA as representatives of Gaumont but by 1910 Gey had founded her own Solax Film Co. of which Blaché became president in 1913 when he left the employ of Gaumont. Thye fomed a new company, Blaché Features, in 1913 but it filed due to Balché's mismanagement and they were obliged to work for Popular Plays and Players and other companies, Blaché becoming for a while head of production at Universal. Blaché left Guy in 1918 and they were divorced in 1922.
The Black Maria or the Kinetographic Theater was designed by William Kennedy Laurie Dickson for Thomas Alva Edison to make films for the Kinetoscope. Construction began in December 1892 and the studio was complete in 1893. It was covered in black tarpaper eith a huge window in the ceiling to let in sunlight. It was a small and uncomfortable place to work and its nickname derived from a supposeed similarity to the police paddywagons (vans used for arrestees) which were also so nicknamed. It was closed in January 1901 when Edison had a glass-enclosed rooftop movie studio constructed in New York City and the building was demolished in 1903.
La Bonne Presse La Maison de la Bonne Presse (later the publishing house Bayard) was founded in 1873 by Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly and which played a leaading role in the development of the French Catholic press (Le Pèlerin in 1873 and La Croix in 1880, of which Bailly was the editor). Bailly was both an enthusiast of technology and a firm believer in the power of the image and in 1895 charged the writer and lanternist G.-Michel Coissac with the supervision of the "service de projections lumineuses" and of all La Bonne Presse's audiovisual activities. Bailly and Coissac appear to have contact the film-maker Léar with a view to making a film of the Passion of Christ and the latter may even have accompanied Bailly on one of his regualr pilgrimages to the Holy Land. There is no real evidence that such a film was actually made at this time (the twelve-part Passion that appeared in 1897 may well have been shot by Léar but was most probably the work of Georges Hatot and not at all the film that Bailly had in mind. La Bonne Press did however eventually produce a version of the Passion, filmed at least partly in the Middle East by two priests, which was first advertised in their catalogue for 1906.
Segundo de Chomón (1871-1929) was born in Teruel, Spain. At first a consessionaire for Pathé in Barcelona,he moved to Paris to work as a cinematographer for the company in 1905. He became known especially for his trick films, in which respect he was, along with Pathé colleague Gaston Velle, very much the successor to . In about 1912 he returned to Spain, wheer he continued to work as director and cinematographer, while also occasionally working in both Italy and France. He was involved as a cinematographer both in the making of Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria in 1914 and Abele Gance's Napoléon in 1927.
Clément-Maurice (Clément-Maurice Gratioulet) (1853-1933) was an employee of the Lumières who went on to become a photographer in Paris, using an atelier owned by Antoine Lumière below the Théâtre Robert-Houdin. In 1896 he became the Lumière concessionaire for the capital and was responsible for the projections at the Grand Café from the 28th of December 1895 onwards. He also worked for the film-maker François Parnaland. In 1900 for the Paris Exposition, using a system of sound-synchronistaion devised by Henri Lioret, he launched the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre,which projected several short films with both colour(hand-painted) and synchronised sound. In 1907 with Parnaland and Marcel Vandal, he founded the company Éclair.
Alfred Clark, aboutwhom nextto nothing is knwn, was an emloyee of the marketing company Raff and Gammon associated in the 1890s with Edison. At a lowpoint in the fortunes of the Edison company in 1894, after the departure of Wllliam Kennedy Laurie Dickson, Clark was drafted in to help with film-making. Imaginatively he introduced historical subjects that included scenes from US history such as Rescue of Capt. John Smith by Pocahontas, Indian Scalping Scene and Frontier Scene (later retitled Lynching Scene),none of which survive. Clark is best rememebered for his one surviving film, The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots which contains the first known use of "stop-motion" in its rendering of Mary's beheading. Clarkleft the company shortly aftewards to take up a career in photograph.
Guillaume-Michel Coissac [it is often assumed, incorrectly, that the initial "G", which he customarily used, stood for "Georges"](1868-1946) was an early French film-maker, religious propagandist and critic. Originally interested in the "magic lantern" as an educative medium, Coissac founded the popular science journal Le Cosmos in 1852, publication of which was taken over in 1895 by the religious publishers ,La Bonne Presse (later Bayard), whose founder, Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly charged Coissac with the supervision of the "service de projections lumineuses" and of all La Bonne Presse's audiovisual activities. In this respect he was involved in producing lanternslides but also with plans to shoot a film of the Passion (which eventually appeared in 1906). A lifelong advocate of the "cinéma educateur", he wrote in 1925 one the earliest histories of cinematography - Histoire du Cinématographe: De ses origines à nos jours.
Georges Demenÿ (1850-1917) was born at Douai in Normandy, son of a piano-teacher. He studied physiology at the Sorbonne and later ran courses in physical education. He became the assistant to Étienne-Jules Marey at the Station Physiologique in 1882 but was dismissed when the two fell out. He developed his own camera/projector (the Chronophotographe and Phonoscope) but,failing to market them sucessfully himself, made an agreement with Léon Gaumont for whom he made some 150 films before they too fell out in 1896 and Demenÿ returned to his first love, physical educatio, to which he devoted the rest of his life. In 1901 he relinquished all rights in his invention (renamed the Bioscope) for the derisory sum of 500F.
Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) began his career as an actor and then director/producer on the Broadway stage in the theatrical company of Charles Frohman in 1900, later also working with worked with David Belasco. He entered films in 1913, making his first film The Squaw Man in 1914, a film he would subsequently twice remake. His first significant success was The Cheat in 1915 but he reached the height of his pupularity in the twenties with such films as he reached the apex of his popularity with such films as Don't Change Your Husband (1919), The Ten Commandments (1923), and The King of Kings. From 1936 to 1944, DeMille hosted Lux Radio Theatre, whichpresented radio dramatisations of successful films. He was best known in later years for such spectacular productions as The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), for which he won an Oscar for "best picture" and The Ten Commandements (1956), a very difefrent films from the silent film. He was the model for more than one film producer and director in India, especially the Tamil imoressario S. S. Vasan and the Hindi directer Mehboob Kahn who were both known in their time as "the Indian Cecil B. DeMille".
Ruth Denis (1879-1968) was a dancer from New Jersey who had not yet made her name when she appeared in this (lost) film. She subsequently worked for the impressario David Belasco who changed her name to "Ruth St. Denis" and became renowned, like Loie Fuller as an exponent of "free dance" forms, with a strong "oriental" flavour. Together with husband Ted Shawn in 1911, she founded Denishawn, the school that became known as the “cradle of American modern dance” and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance centre in 1930. She and Shawn were the most influential dance-teachers of their day.
William Kennedy Laurie Dickson (1860-1935), Scottish but born in France, came to the US in 1879. Joining Thomas Edison in 1883, he had devevloped the Kinetoscope camera by October 1892 and began making films in January 1894. Impatient with Edison's reluctance to move to a projection system, Dickson joined the KMCD Syndicate which launched the rival American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1895. In May 1897 he moved to England as manager of their newly-formed British subsidiary, where he did some fine work as a cine-journalist before leaving the company in about 1903 to set up in London as an electrical engineer.
Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915 was a Mexican soldier and politician, who served seven terms as President of Mexico, totaling nearly three decades between 1876 and 1911. The Porfiriato, a kind of moderately benevolent dictatorship, was marked by significant internal stability (known as the "paz porfiriana"), modernization, and economic growth. When the Lumière concesionaire Ferdinand Bon Bernard and cinematographer Gabriel Veyre arrived in Mexico City in August 1896, Diaz welcomed the opportunity for self-publicity and became, in a sense, one of the very earliest stars of the cinema ("la primera estrella mexicana del cinematógrafo"). He was shot by Veyre shot from every conceivable angle and, for Mexican Independence Day, 16 September, a whole series of films weer made, following the President throughout the day. A further series of films madeof Diaz in 1897 were specially hand-coloured. The Lumières' operations in the Americas came to an end shortly afterwards and Diaz himself was overthrown and forced to flee the country in 1911.
Francisque or Francis Doublier (1878-1948), was born in Lyon. After his father Edouard was killed in an accident when he was twelve, all the Doublier children found employment with the Lumières. Working under engineer Charles Moisson, he became the the « garçon à tout faire » in the cinema section. He subsequently spent three years touring Russia as an operator. Afterwards, at the suggestion of Louis Lumière, he moved to the USA where he worked as a technician for various French-based film companies.
Eugène-Louis Doyen (1859-1916), was a controversial and progressive Paris surgeon who took a special inteerst in the pedagogical aspects of cinematography. In association witha href="#cmaurice" target="notes" text-decoration=0>Clément-Maurice and a href="#parnaland" target="notes" text-decoration=0>Ambroise-François Parnaland, seveal hundred films of surgical operations were made from 1898onward (including the separation of Siamese twins in 1902) but caused controversy and a ban in 1905 when the filsm weer foudn to have made their way onto the fairground circuit. born in Lyon. Doyen resumed filming of operations in 1912 in association with the film company Éclipese. Aso an inventor, he was responsible, with the aid of Clément-Maurice and Léon Gillon for the Diplide camera which was thebasis for the scameras used by the company éclair, founded in1907 by Clément-Maurice and Parnaland.
a name="ducom"> Jacques Ducom Nothing much is known of Jacques Ducom, except that he was a photographer employed at different times in 1895-1896 by both the Lumières and by Léon Gaumont. At the first public projection of the cinématographe, he was present ina technical capacity assisting Lumière engineer employee Charles Moisson (in charge of the "electric arc"). In May 1896 he shot a film (subsequently hand-coloured) for Gaumont for insertion in a féerie called La Biche au bois ou La Royaume des fées performed at the Châtelet theatre in Paris.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was one of the most prolific inventors in history and one of the most prolific registrar of patents (with over 1000 to his name). Inventor notably of the phonograph in 1877, he invented absolutely nothing in the field of cinematography but cunningly patented the "idea" in 1888. By 1891 his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson had developed the Kinetoscope camera/viewer which was replaced by the Vitascope camera/projector in 1895. For several years, Edison attempted through the law-courts and through the MPPC to enforce a quasi-monopoly until this was ruled contrary to the anti-trust laws in 1918.
Peter Elfelt (1866-1931) appears, as Danish court photographer, to have been one of the invitees to the Lumières' first public projection in December 1895. Although the Lumières were not prepared at this stage to sell their camera/projector, Elfelt was friendly with Jules Carpentier who had played an important part in its design and was therefore able to reconstruct his own version on his return to Denmark with which he shot his first film Kørsel Med Grønlandske Hunde/Driving with Greenland Dogs some time between December 1896 and January 1897. Although the production of film was always secondary to his main work as a photographerer, Elfelt the next fifteen years Elfelt made over 200 films over the next fifteen yeara and for the first ten of those years he alone was responsible for all Danish film production. Elfelt chiefly produced filmed records of the famous, from royalty and politicians to sportsmen and composers, but also produced advertising and ballet films and one docufiction drama, Henrettelsen/The Execution (1903.
Robert Flaherty (1884–1951) norn in Michigan of irish descent, worked in Canda for the Hudson Bay Company where he became intersted in filming the life of the native eskimo or inuit peoples. His first film of 1916 was supposedly lost in a fire but he had in any case decided against simple reportage in favour of a more docufictional approach,which is the mark of all his subsequent work. His Nanook of the North (1922) was amongst the first full-length films of this kind and enjoyed enormous success. Moana, filmed in Samoa followed in 1926 and was described by fellow-film-maker John Grierson as having "documentary value", the first use of the term. In 1929 he worked with German director F. W. Murnau on the film Tabu (1931), also shot in the South Seas, but the two men fell out and little of Flaherty's work was retained. Out of favour with US studios for his tendency to go over budget and film what they regarded as excessive amounts of footage, he was invited to Britain by Grierson where he worked with Grierson on Industrial Britain (1931) and made The Man of Aran for producer Michael Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures in 1931-1933. He made his last documentary, Louisiana Story for the Standard Oil Company in 1948.
Leopoldo Fregoli (1867–1936) was an Italian quick-change artist, illusionist and ventriloquist. Visiting Lyon and becoming friends in 1897 Louis and Auguste Lumière, he became their concessionaire for North Italy but was primarily interested in making films on his own account for use in connection with his stage-act. He apparently developed a modified version of the Cinématographe which he called "the Frégoligraphe", with which he is known to have made three or four films 1897-1899. He also appears as a performer, doing the Serpentine Dance, in one Lumière film.
Claude Friese-Greene (1898-1943) born Claude Harrison Greene was the son of William Friese-Greene and a talented cineamotgrapher who, in collboration with his father, developed an additive colour film process called Biocolour. In 1911, George Albert Smith and Charles Urban filed a lawsuit claiming that the Biocolour process infringed upon Smith's "Kinemacolor" patents. William won the first round in 1914 but the decision was reversed on appeal by the House of Lords but reversed again, by the House of Lords itself in Freise-Green's favour in 1915. After his father's death in 1921, Claude Friese-Greene continued to develop the system during which he renamed Friese-Greene Natural Colour and produced in 1926 The Open Road, a travelogue recounting a car-journey from London to John O'Groats (in Scotland), the earliest complkete feature-length film in colour to survive in its entirety. The colour is very beautiful, rich and intense, but the Friese-Green process was too expensive to commercialise and siffered from effects of "flicker" when the subject was in rapid motion. Claude was cinematographer on more than sixty films between 1923 and 1943.
William Friese-Greene (1855-1921) was born William Edward Green, the son of a Bristol metalworker. He changed his name when he married Helena Friese in 1874. Leaving school at 14, he was apprenticed to a local photographer, Maurice Guttenberg, and subsequently set up his own studio in Bath and by 1877 also had two shops in Bristol and one in Plymouth. He met John Arthur Roebuck Rudge, a Bath instrument maker who had devised some novel adaptations of the magic lantern and the two men worked together on the "Biophantascope", a halfway house between the lantern and the cinematograph. In 1885 he moved to London, opening two and later more photography shops in partnership with Esme Collings. In 1889 Friese Greene and civil engineer Mortimer Evans designed a sequence camera using "a roll of any convenient length of sensitised paper or the like", capable of taking four or five pictures a second but there is no record of a successful film projection at this time. In 1891 he was made bankrupt and although he took out several patents, turned instead to demonstrating X-Rays. In 1898 he began work on colour photography and took out a patent in 1905 for colour moving pictures. With his son Claude he developed a "natural colour" process (Friese-Greene Natural Colour). Friese-Greene's sudden death at a film industry meeting at the Connaught Rooms in London, sparked a pang of guilt at the neglect of the now poverty-stricken pioneer. A tombstone inscription described him somehwat misleadingly as "The Inventor of Kinematography" and his life was the subject of a romantic biography, Friese-Greene, Close-Up of an Inventor in 1948 and a 1951 film The Magic Box as part of that year's Festival of Britain.
Loie Fuller (1862-1928), born in Chicago, was, along with Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, one of the earliest exponents of "free dance". Her "Serpentine Dance" (1891) made her famous and is the dance most often reproduced on film. She moved shortly afterwards to France, where she felt her work was better appreciated than in the USA, and became one of the iconic figures of the Fuller became the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement there. She remained in France for the rest of her life and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. All the early cinematographers, virtually without exception, produced films in imitation of her dances but Loie Fuller herself never appeared on film.
Léon Gaumont (1864-1945) became head of the photographic-equipment company Comptoir général de photographie in 1895 and, in association with Georges Demenÿ, created Léon Gaumont et Compagnie and began to produce films in 1895 to exploit the Demenÿ's Phonoscope/Chronophotographe (later Bioscope/Biographe) system. Production was at first relatively dilatory. Gaumont broke with Demenÿ while nevertheless appropriating his invention,and employed a variety of film-makers. From around 1900, perhaps earlier, production was in the capable hands of his former secretary Alice Guy and, when she left for the United States in 1907, she was replaced by Louis Feuillade. Under Feullade, and directors Léonce Perret and Jean Durand, The compoany went into decline after the war. Gaumont himself retired in 1930 and the company went into liquidation in 1934 but was revived, under the name Société nouvelle des établissements Gaumont in 1938.
François-Constant Girel (1873-1952), a Lyon chemist, was one of the magic circle of Lumière operators who were regularly allowed to make films as well as show them although his work never achieved quite the same expertise or interst as that of Alexandre Promio or Gabriel Veyre. Hew as assigend the task in September 1896 of tracking the Russian Tsar's progress through Europe en route for his Coronation in Russia, after which he worked in Germany and Switzerland (along with François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke) and was then sent to Japan in 1897 where he spent a year before returning to France. Although he approached Pathé, he failed to find frutehr work as a cinematographer and returned to pharmacy.
Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov known as Maksim Gorki (1868-1936) was born in Nizhny-Novgorod, which was renamed in his honour after his death. was one of the first Russian writers to comment on moving pictures and later an important literary influence on Soviet cinema. Gorki saw the Lumière presentation organised by Charles Aumont at the annual Nizhny-Novgorod All-Russian Exhibition on 30 June or 1 July 1896 (the show had opened on 22 June), and on 4 July published an evocative account (signed "I.M. Pacatus") in a local newspaper which has become the most famous of all early literary responses to film ('Last night I was in the kingdom of the shadows'). After a second article for an Odessa paper, Gorki wrote a short story, "Revenge", based on the death of one of Aumont's "show girls", which links a prostitute's suicide with seeing the "normal family life" of the Lumière film Repas de bébé. Gorki's first book Essays and Stories (1898) enjoyed a sensational success. He became closely associated with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov's's Bolshevik wing of the Communist party and wrote his famous novel of revolutionary conversion and struggle, The Mother in 1907. After his return from voluntary exile (mainly for health reasons)in 1929, Gorki was proclaimed the model for all Soviet art and his doctrine of "socialist realism" became mandatory for writers and film-makers alike. The novel The Mother was filmed by Vsevolod Pudovkin in 1926 and his autobiography inspired three films by Mark Donskoi, The Childhood of Gorki (1938), Among People (1939) and My Universities (1940). His play The Lower Depths, originally a Moscow Art Theatre success in 1902, became an iconic classic of communist and communist-inspired movements throughout the world. It was filmed by Jean Renoir in 1936 and by Akira Kurosawa in 1957 and strongly influenced other films by leftist film-makers, including Ritwik Ghatak's Nagarik (1952) and Masaki Kobayashi's Black River (1957). In 1955, the Moscow studio which had been Ermoliev's and Mezhrabpom-Rus was named after Gorki.
John Grierson (1898-1972, a Scotsman and son of a schoolmaster,whose mother was a sufragette and Labour party activist, studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Chicago, where he reserached the role of propaganda and the sensational "yellow" press. He coined the term "documentary" in 1926 in a review of a href="#flaherty" target="notes" text-decoration=0>Robert Flaherty's film Moana and wrote the essay "First Principles of Documentary" in 1932. Like his Ukrainian contemporary a href="#vertov" target="notes" text-decoration=0>Dziga Vertov, Grierson believed that documentary film-making was in some sense more "real" than any acted drama. He came to see it as a form of social and political communication — a mechanism for social reform and education. He admired Flaherty but saw his own less sensational approach as in many ways the opposite. He produced and directed his first film Drifters in 1929 and, as an Assistant Films Officer of the Empire Marketing Board (EMB),went on to found a group that became known as the British Documentary Film Movement. In 1933 when the EMB was disbanded, he transferred to the GPO Film Unit, where he produced some of his finest films. In 1939 he created the National Film Commission (later the National Film Board) of Canada. He was the director of mass communications at UNESCO 1946-1948 and controller of films at Britain's Central Office of Information 1948-1950.
Tom Gunning is Professor of Cinema in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Although he has over a hundred publciations on cinema to his name, Gunning is principally known for the article "The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde" which first appeared in 1985 and which arose from his research work into the use of non-realistic effects in US avant-garde cinema. The theory, reworked and regurgitated constantly since, has been challenged and criticised by film historians but has never been effectively debunked. Although Gunning in some of his other work shows a genuine appreciation of early cinema, his dismissive, often rather sneering, tone in the original essay has been more influential and has served effectively to rspectablilse the nonsensical myth that early audiences were largely uncritical and quite happy to watch anything that moved on the screen as wel as to the idea that "attractions" are essential to the content of early films (quite palpably not the case in European films). Nearly all those who repeat this nonsense use Gunning as their reference and hos own disingenuous mode of presentation is responsible for this.
Alice Guy (1873-1968) is, as far as we know, the first woman film-director. She was employed as a secretary by the photographic-equipment company Comptoir général de photographie in 1893 of which Léon Gaumont became the head in 1895. She made her first film in 1896 (although the surviving version is of later date) and by about 1900, had overall responsibility for production at Léon Gaumont et Compagnie, increasingly directing the bulk of films herself. In 1907 she married Herbert Blaché and the two moved to the United States where they ran successively, the Solax Film Co.(1910-1913) and Blaché Features (1913) before joining Popular Plays and Players later that year. Blaché left her in 1918 and they were divorced in 1922, after which Guy retired and returned to France.
Georges Hatot (1876-1959)was responsible for mounting the alborate tableaux for the enetertainments produced at the Hippodrome d'Alma in Place Clichy from 1890-1892 under the maangement of Hipoolyte Leonard Houcké. Another Hippodrome opened in the avenue Rapp on the Champs de Mars in July 1894 but also had to close soon after so work could begin on preparations for the Paris Exposition of 1900. Presumably on the strength of this, Hatot was employed by the Lumières, probably towards the end of 1896, to produce their non-fiction films and dramas (including the first film versions of The Passion of Christ). By 1898, when the Lumières were gradually ceasing to make their own films, Hatot was working for Gaumont and by 1900 he had joined Pathé, remaking in each case films that he had originally made for the Lumières. Between the two, in 1899-1900, he also seems to have worked for the Théâtre de l'Hippodrome, 1, rue Caulaincourt (later the Gaumont-Palace cinema) where he worked with Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset whom he persuaded to interest himself in cinema. In 1906 he joined Jasset at Éclipse and in 1908 the two men moved to another new company, Éclair. Hatot was particularly associated with historical films, of which he was something of a pionner, was also an early eponent of the "chase" film and, along with Jasset, of the adventure film-series.
William Heise was a machinist employed by Thomas Alva Edison who aided William Kennedy Laurie Dickson in the development of the original Kinetoscope and became the company's first cameraman. We know little of him and have only a very hazy idea of what he looked like (from the early test-film "The Handshake" in which he appears). He was not a particularly skilled cinematographer and faded from the picture when the company acquired the services of abler men, remaining in Edison's emply but in some other unknown capacity.
Cecil Hepworth (1874–1953) was a British film director, producer and screenwriter born in Lambeth. After working for both Birt Acres and Charles Urban, he wrote The A.B.C. of the Cinematograph, the first British book on the subject, in 1897. With his cousin Monty Wicks he set up the production company Hepworth and Co.(or "Hepwix"), which was later renamed the Hepworth Film Manufacturing Company and then Hepworth Picture Plays. Their fortunes declined after 1915, along with the whole British film industry, and the company went bankrupt in 1924. He subsequently He lectured on film history, and became Chairman of the British Film Institute's History Committee.
Jules Janssen (1824-1907) was a profesor of general science at the University of Paris who specialised in the study of eclipses. He devised a "photographic revolver" to produce the images, a device which he presented to the Société Francaise de Photographie in 1875. He had a considerable influence on the later work of Étienne-Jules Marey. Janssen appeared in two very early Lumière films, Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon - where he is easily distinguishable by his particularly bushy white beard - and Discussion de Monsieur Janssen et de Monsieur Lagrange, filmed on 11 June 1895.
4 Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (1862-1913) was responsible for décors and costumes at the Théâtre de l'Hippodrome in 1, Rue de Caulaincourt, Paris (the future Gaumont-Palace cinema), which opened in 1899. Here he worked with Georges Hatot in 1900 on a production of Vercingétorix and it seems to be Hatot who persuaded him to interest himself in cinema.He worked with Alice Guy on La Esmeralda (a version of Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris) in 1905 and on her version of The Passion of Christ in 1906. He and Hatot subsequently formed a team, working together both for Éclipse and then, after 1908, for Éclair, where Jasset went on to outshine his mentor and to become the principal director until his sudden illness and death in 1913. He was a major pioneer both of film serieas and of feuilletons (serials, specialising in epics, films of adventure and policiers.
The KMCD syndicate consisted of Elias Koopman,a businessman, Henry Marvin, an engineer, Herman, Casler, inventor, and William Kennedy Laurie Dickson. Dickson had broken with Edison because of the latter's reluctance to move to a projection system and, with his aid, Casler developed the Mutoscope camera and the Biograph projector. The syndicate formed American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in December 1895.
François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke (1848-1932) was the Swiss representative of Lever Brothers, manufacturer of Sunlight soap, from 1889 and involved, on behalf of his stepfather, businessman William Gibbs Clarke in the Société Française du Phonoscope (1892-1895)along with inventor Georges Demenÿ and German businesman Ludwig Stollwerck. In 1896 he became the Lumière concessionaire for Switzerland and combined his two roles by using the film-showings to promote Sunlight soap, especially during the Swiss nation exposition of 1896, and slyly including the product in at least two of his films. In 1899 he retired from both to concentrate on his philanthropic work for the blind.
Albert Kirchner known as Léar(1860-1912) was a photographer born in Hamburg, Germany. Having developed his own Biographe camera, he worked in Paris as a cinematographer for the photographer and exhibitor Eugène Pirou in 1896-7. By 1898 Léar, with a studio in the baement of the Olympia Theatre, was also making films for Gaumont. He was contacted by the religious publishers La Bonne Presse concerning the possibility of a film-version of The Passion of Christ; Léar apparently rebaptised his camera "L'Immortel" and accompanied the founder of the press, Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly, on one of his regular visits to the Holy Land, but there is no real evidence that La Bonne Presse actually produced such a film at this time - their own film eventually appearing in 1906. Léar himself, according to one account, ended his days in an insane assylum, dying in 1902.
4 Augustin Le Prince (Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince)(1841-1890) was born in Metz, the son of an army officer. He studied physics and chemistry in Bonn and Leipzig. Through an English fellow-student at Leipzig, John Robinson Whitley, he found employment with the latter's family's brass foundary, Whitley Partners in Leeds, England. He subsequently married John's sister Elisabeth. After serving briefly in the Franco-Prussian war, he returned to Leeds where Whitley Partners was in severe financial difficulties and finally folded in 1875. With his wife, he opened a School of Applied Arts in Leeds in 1874 and in 1874-8 made experiments in painting and then photography on ceramic and enamel, exhibiting the results at the Exposition universelle in Paris in 1889. His brother-in-law John Robinson Whitley had meanwhile set up a new business in linoleum and persuaded Le Prince to accompany him to the USA in 1881. Whitley's business soon foundered but Le Prince set up his own interior-decoration firm in Broadway, New York while his wife taught deaf and blind children at an Arts School in Washington Heights. He also became associated in 1885 with fellow French expatriate, Théodore Poilpot, an exhibitor of "panoramas" to which Le Prince added magic-lantern effects inspired by the dioramas of Daguerre. In the workshop of the school where his wife taught, Le Prince meanwhile worked on developing a cinematograph. In 1886 he took out a patent for his "apparatus for producing animated pictures of natural scenery and life", his work seemingly influenced by that of the English inventor Woodison Donisthorpe, whom Le Prince had known in Leeds. He now struggled for several years to develop a projector, a problem still unresolved when he and his wife returned to Leeds and the Whitley family home (Roundhay Cottage) in 1887. He rented a workshop there and continued work on both camera and projector. He shot his first film, a Garden-scene at Roundhay, in October 1888 on paper film using a single lens camera and took out a second patent in London for his improved camera. He made two further films, one of Leeds traffic as seen from the bridge and another of his son Adolphe playing the accordeon. Finally in 1889, with a switch to celluloid film, he was able to solve the problem of projection. He moved to New York (while his wife remained in Leeds)to try and market the invention but was obliged to borrow large sums and was soon in desperate financial straits. In Spring 1890 he travelled to Paris to show his invention to Ferdinand Mobisson, Secretary of the Opéra de Paris. After a visit to Brittany with friends from Leeds, he took a train from Bourges to Dijon on 16 September, intending to pay a visit to his brother Albert there. He was never seen again.
Lever Bros. was a British comany founded in 1885 by William Hesketh Lever (1851–1925, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme, and his brother, James Darcy Lever (1854–1910), founded upon a good, free-lathering soap, at first named Honey Soap then later named "Sunlight Soap". Production reached 450 tons per week by 1888 and The model village of Port Sunlight was developed between 1888 and 1914 adjoining the soap factory to accommodate the company's staff in good quality housing. Lever Bros. seem to have been involved as a sponsor of the the Lumière Triograph projector, used by Alexandre Promio ona tour of Liverpool and Ireland in autumn 1897. Twice at least afterwards, from November 1897 (Queen Victoria' Diamond Jubilee} and February 1898, the soap industry and the dairy product industry, Lever Brothers and Nestlé, co-operated in intensive campaigns involving the use of films organised by British exhibitor H. Spencer Clarke (very possibly a relative of Lever Bros. Swiss representative and Lumière concessionaire, François-Henri Lavanchy Clarke). After Leverhulme's death in 1925, his enterprises were amalgamated as Unilever.
4 Henri Lioret (1848-1938) was the son of a clock-maker who continued in his father's footsteps but combined his clock-making with an interest in phonography. He divised the Bébé Phonographe, a miniaturised machine that was small enough to be inserted in the Bébé Jumeau dolls devised in 1890by Émile Jumeau. developed celuloid cylinders for the phongraph several years before Edison, allowing him to be the first to produce more extended recordings. His system for synchronising sound and film was used by Clément-Maurice for the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre at the Exposition in Paris in 1900, where thirty-four short films with synchronised sound were projected.
4 Albert Londe (1858-1917) was born at Le Ciotat near Marseille, the same small coastal town where the Lumière family had their holiday home and where they shot many of their early films. Londe was the photographic expert at the La Saltpêtrière hospital in Paris where he worked closely with many celebtrated physicians including the distinguished neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his pupils, Paul Richer and Edouard Brissaud. In 1882 he constructed a camera, fitted with lenses arranged in a circle and furnished with a series of electro-magnets energised in sequence by a metronome device which released the shutters in quick succession. The camera was used to study the movements of patients during epileptic fits but also for medical studies of muscle movement.
Antoine Lumière (1840-1911) Orphaned in his teens, Antoine Lumière served an apprenticeship as a sign-painter before turning to photography. He opened a workshop in Lyon in 1871, founding the family company to develop and produce photographic plates there in 1882. He increasingly left the direction of the company to his two sons, Auguste and Louis and busied himself with a variety of interests that included freemasonry, travelling and collecting art. It was Antoine who, after seeing the Edison Kinetoscope demonstrated in Paris in 1894. urged his sons to develop a cinematographic apparatus, in the belief that there was a fortune to be made in the field. He bought an extensive seaside property in La Ciotat, near Marseille, which served as a holiday-home for all the family and this features in many of the Lumières' films. In 1896 he bought another holday house in Évian, on the banks of Lac Leman, which his son Louis also used as a base from which to photograph the scenic mountain-region.
Auguste Lumière (1862-1954) and Louis Lumière (1864-1948) were the sons of Antoine Lumière, owner of a business in Montplaisir, Lyon that specialised in photographic equipment.
Auguste Lumière (1862-1954) elder brother of Louis was basically a research scientist. He took some interest in the film-business but is only certainly known known to have made a couple of films himself. In geenral this side of the business was entirely in the hands of younger brother Louis.
Of the two brothers, it was the younger, Louis who was responsible for the cinema-side of the business. It was he who designed the first Cinématographe and it was he himself who shot the first films. After a year of private demonstrations, the first public demonstration of the Cinématographe took place at the Grand Café in Paris on the 28th of December, 1895. During the course of 1896-97 the Lumière operators carried the invention to the four corners of the globe but the adminstrative strains on the small family concern proved impossibly great and, over the next few years, the Lumières gradually withdrew from active film-making (they produced their last catalogue in 1907) to concentrate on marketing the equipment as well as returning to their photographhic research. In later life, Louis Lumière frequently stated that he would never have become involved with cinematography had he known what it would turn out to be but this indifference sounds to a large extent like affectation and is not borne out by his activities at the time. Louis himself was an excellent cinemotographer and not only made many films himself but closely monitored the work of the other operators. He set standards for composition that would have a lasting influence not only on French film but on the whole tradition of film-making in Europe.
Lux Radio Theatre was a long-running show on US radio, which combined the transmission of radio dramatisations of popular films (often featuring the original actors) with comedy sketches and, of course, advertising for "Lux soap". From 1936 to 1945 it was princially hosted by film impresssario Cecil B. DeMille. It was just one of the many different forms of "sponsorship" involvement in film by the company Lever Brothers, who made "LUx", going right back to the 1890s.
Franck Zeveley Maguire (c.1860-1910), a domer agent for Edison Phongraph, and Joseph Delaney Baucus (illustrated), a lawyer, were Thomas Edison's official agents (as The Continental Commerce Company) for exhibiting and marketing the Kinetoscope in Europe, Edison having granted them in 1894 the world rights, excluding the USA and Canada.They opened of the first Kinetoscope parlour in London at 70 Oxford Street on 17 October 1894,but their success with the Kinetoscope was short-lived. They could not control the market in the face of British rivals, Robert Paul and Burt Acres, and, by 1896, the Kinetoscope peep-show viewer was already defunct and was replaced by the Vitascope and a projection system. Maguire & Baucus, with offices in New York and London, remained agents for Edison films and projectors and in 1897 they also acquired the rights to distribute Lumière films in Britain and America. a href="#urban" target="notes" text-decoration=0>Charles Urban joined the company in the same year as the manager of their London office and rapidly became the moving spirit of the company, which was renamed the Warwick Trading Company the following year after its London address, Warwick Court. By 1902 the Warwick Trading Company had become one of the most important film producers and distributors in the country but its fortunes declined sharply after Urban's departure in 1902.
Étienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) was a French physiologist who had become interested in the use of chronophotography, particularly in his study of the motion of birds, being closely associated at the time with pioneer of aviation Alphonse Penaud. In 1882, he devised a "photographic gun", inspired by the 1874 "photographic revolver" of the astronomer Jules Janssen, capable of taking twelve exposures in one second.In 1882 he was named director of the Station Physiologique in the Bois de Boulogne, a research institute funded by the City of Paris.
Georges Méliès (1861-1938) was already established as an illusionist, impressario and owner of the Théâtre Robert Houdin in Paris when he attended the first public projection given by the Lumières in 1895. When the Lumières refused to sell him a camera, he designed his own, built a studio in the grounds of his family-home in Montreuil-sous-Bois and began making films in 1896. By 1902 he was already one of the very film-makers to be making longer films and in that year had his greatest succes with the eight-minute science-fiction fantasy Le Voyage dans la lune. His films also enjoyed a particular popularity in the USA, where he was represnted by his brother Gaston. Although trick films were a substantial part of his repertoire, he continued to make films, including docufiction, literary adaptations and fantasies, until 1911 (independently) and in 1912-1913 (under the aeges of Pathé) but was obliged to sell up during the war and, burning his stcok of films, disappeared from circulation, marrying former actress Charlotte « Fanny » Faës (stage name Jeanne d'Alcy) and becoming proprietor of a toy and confectionary shop in the Paris railway-station, gare Montparnasse. He was "rediscovered" in the twenties and a major retrospective "gala" featuring his surviving films was held on December 1929 at the salle Pleyel in Paris.
Charles Moisson was the Chief Engineer at the Lumières' factory in Lyon, charged with the task of constructing the first Cinématographe camera and projector. Little is known about him but he was, along with Alexandre Promio, the main film-maker for the Lumières in the first year of their worldwide activities (1896-1897), co-ordinating the filming of the Tsar's Coronation in Russia and making films thereafter mainly in Germany, Austria and Italy. He also filmed his sister's marriage for Lumière in 1897.
The Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC, also known as the Edison Trust), founded in December 1908, was a trust of all the major American film companies with a federal court decision in United States v. Motion Picture Patents Co. on October 1, 1915, which ruled that the MPPC's acts went "far beyond what was necessary to protect the use of patents or the monopoly which went with them" and was therefore an illegal restraint of trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act. An appellate court dismissed the Patent Company's appeal, and officially terminated the MPPC in 1918.
Charles Musser (1951-) is a US film historian, currently professor of Film and American Studies at Yale University. His The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1990 and Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991
The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company was founded by the KMCD Syndicate in December 1895 to exploit their new Mutoscope camera and Biograph projector it with a studio in Manhattan and rapidly became the most important rival company to that of Thomas Edison in the US. To avoid violating Edison’s patents, Biograph cameras used 68 mm instead of 35 mm film 1895-1902. In 1908 the company joined Edison's MPPC trust and changed its name to The Biograph Company in 1909. After the dissolution of the Trust in 1915, Biograph went into a rapid decline, making its last new feature-length films in that same year and its last new short films in 1916.
Eadwearde Muybridge (1830-1904) born Edward James Muggeridge, was a British immigrant to the US who, from the 1870s onwards, developed action cameras principally for the study of movement. He was notably responsible for decoding the leg-movements of a running horse. From 1880 onwards he lectured widely in the USA and Europe, projecting his results by means of a device called a "Zoôpraxiscope", giving a major demonstration of his work in 1893 at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893. His work was influential both on the research of Étienne-Jules Marey in France and on Thomas Alva Edison. Ambroise-François Parnaland (1854-1913) was a French inventor and film producer. In 1896 he patented a camera known as the Phototheagraphe and began producing his own films in Paris in 1898 in association with the photographer Clément-Mauricee. He also produced films for the surgeon Eugène-Louis Doyen. In 1900 he was also associated with Clément-Maurice in the development of the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre for the Paris Exposition. In 1907 with Clément-Maurice et Marcel Vandal, he founded the company Éclair and constructed a studio in a château in Epinay-sur-Seine. Under the direction of Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, Éclair would go on to become the third most important French film company after Pathé and Gaumont but Parnaland himself was removed from the management in 1909.
Robert W. Paul (1869-1943) was a British electrical engineer who teamed up with photographer, Birt Acres to produce films. The two men developed their own projection-system but split up acromoniously in June 1895 over rights to the various patents. Paul went on to give his first exhibition on 21 February 1896 (the same day that the Lumière Cinematographe opened to the London public), launching an improved Theatrograph projector 19 March of the same year. He had a rapidly growing market for his projectors, and in April started producing his own films once more. Between 1896 and 1910, he produced a very eclectic mix of films but retired in 1910 and returned to engineering.
Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was the brainchild of Clément-Maurice. Using a system of voice-synhcronisation developed by Henri Lioret and equipment constructed by hus longtime associate Ambrose-François Parnaland. Félicien Trewey was apparently also involved and the Lumière cameraman Félix Mesguich was responsible for projection. A programme of thirty-four one-minute films were shown with both colour (hand-painted) and synchronsied sound from record. The programe included comedy routines, operatic arias, popular songs, scenes from plays, ballet and dance. The elegant poster designed by Francois Flameng shows the atress Sarah Bernhardt as Tosca although, for the programme, she appeared in the duel scene from Hamlet, a film that survives (without sound and only stills in colour).Also surviving is one of the performances of British comic Little Tich (no sound, only stills in colour) and the actor Coquelin as Cyrano de Bergerac (with bothcoliur and sound).
Eugène Pirou (1841-1909) in Paris. A fashionable social photographer, he had also been one of those charged by the Paris Commune in 1871 to film the massacre of « la semaine sanglante ». Pirou had studios at 5 du Boulevard Saint-Germain and 23 rue Royale in Paris, was an old friend of of Antoine Lumière they were both Freemasons) and may well have been present at early private exhibitions of the Cinématographe. Aware no doubt of Lumière's refusal to sell his camera, Pirou contacted the Eastman Kodak company for information about the Edison Vitascope but subsquently formed an alliance with Henri Joly, who had developed and patented his own projector the previous year. He first presented films at the Café de la Paix (12 boulevard des Capucines) in Paris in April 1896. By this time he had dubbed himself as the "photographe des rois" and appropriately amongst the first films were a series depicting the visit of Tsar Nikolas II to France in October 1896, a six-minute programme in all. In the autumn of 1896 he produced several other films but the most celebrated film, and the pricipal source of his success, was Le Coucher de la Mariée, in which Mlle. Louise Willy recreated the most sensational part of her stage hit at the Olympia, where she performed a striptease. On the strength of his initial success, Pirou opened at two other venues in the city and even exhibited at the Casino in Nice.
Edwin S. Porter (1870-1941) was born in Philadelphia and worked as as a projectionist and travelling showman before joining the Edison Manufacturing Company in 1900. In the years that followed he became the company's principal director and while there made he directed inter alia two seminal American films, The Life of an American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery (both in 1903). In 1909 he left Edison to help in forming the small independent company Rex and in 1911 became chief director of Adolph Zukor's new Famous Players Film Company. His last film was released in 1915 and from 1917 to 1925 Porter served as president of the Precision Machine Company, manufacturers of the Simplex projectors, continuing to work as an inventor and designer during his retirement.
Alexandre Promio (1868-1926) was born in Lyon of Italian descent. As a journalist for the local Lyon newspaper Progrès illustré, he attended a presentation of the Cinématographe, left his job and presented himself at the Lumières' on 1 March 1896. He became the Lumières star operator in the years 1896-1901, travelling the world for the company and making some of their best films. He did not take the first "travelling shot" as is sometimes claimed but his film taken in Venice from a gondola in October 1896 did serve to popularise the "panorama", which became a hallmark both of Promio's own work and of Lumière films in general. He left the Lumières' employ shortly after this and, after working for Pathé and Éclair, became photographer and cinematographer to the Algerian government after the war.
Charlotte Reiniger known as Lotte Reiniger(1899–1981) was an illustrator and "Scherenschneiderin" ("silhoutte-cutter") who produced a series of seminal silhouette-animations. Strongly influenced as a teenager by the "trick-films" of Georges Méliès, she later became associated with the Deutschen Theater in Berlin, where she met the influential Austrian theatre-director Max Reinhardt, the German actor and film-director Paul Wegener and Carl Koch, whom she married in 1921 and who was her lifetime collaborator. She directed her first short animation, Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens in 1919 and her work influenced and was incorporated in several films by other expressionist film-makers including Wegener's Der verlorene Schatten (1921) and Georg Pabst's Don Quichotte (1933). Her
Henri Rivière(1864–1951) was born in Paris. An artist and designer, he became associated with the colourful Montmartre cabaret-world in the 1880s, a regular contributor to the avant garde journal Le Chat noir and an habitué of the popular café of the same name. Between 1886 and 1897 he mounted regular "ombres chinoises" (shadow puppet shows) at the Chat Noir, where he was also associated with the illustrator and pioneer of the graphic strip, Caran d'Ache. During the decade he created 43 shadow plays on a great variety of subjects from myth, history and the Bible, including d'Ache's L’Epopée, and Rivière's own works, Le Temptation de Saint Antoine (1887) and La Marche à l'étoile (1890), and collaborated with many different artists and writers. The Ombres evolved into numerous theatrical productions and had a major influence on magic-lantern phantasmagoria.In later life he experimented with colour woodcuts and chromolithography.
Étienne-Gaspard Robert known as Robertson (1763–1837)was a Flemish illusionist. A professor of physics, specialising in optics, he was also a painter and draughtsman. After attending a magic lantern show given by Paul Philidor in 1793, he developed a "phantasmagoria" show that used live ators, ventriloquism and various forms of projection to create the iluussion if "ghosts". His show had elborate themes - mythological (Medusa, Venus, the three Graces, Proserpine and Pluto, Orpheus and Eurydice), biblical (David and Goliath, Samuel appearing to Saul), religious (« Apothéose d’Héloïse », « la nonne sanglante ») and literary (Petrarch and Laura). He not only gave shows in Paris and in French provincial cities but toured around the world, visiting Russia, Spain, and the United States. Robert Robert was a keen balloonist who designed and flew balloons in different countries around the world.
John Arthur Roebuck Rudge(1837–1903) was born in Bath, a British instrument maker and inventor, as well as an entertainer who put on countless shows, earning the nickname "Wizard of the Magic Lantern". He collaborated with William Friese-Greene and in 1875 invented the Rudge Projector, known as the "Biophantic Lantern", further developed and enhanced as the "Biophantascope", or "Phantascope" (not to be confused with the "Fantoscope" of Étienne-Gaspard Robertson, or the "Phantoscope" of Charles Francis Jenkins). In the mid 1880s, Rudge produced a lantern front with four converging lenses to project a slide with a sequence of four photographs on it. In 1887 he screened a series of twelve photographs of "A boy in an Eton collar". He also invented a coin-operated weighing machine, a miniature electric train, a quick-firing gun and a self-inflating lifebelt.
Johann Georg Schrepfer or Schröpfer (1738-1774) was a German illusionist and occultist. He was a pioneer of "entertainment séances", being one of the first people to use a magic lantern to project the appearance of ghosts. He staged routines doing this at his coffee shop in Leipzig, convincing people that he could talk to the dead. Schröpfer's shows went on to use a variety of techniques that were the ancestors of the "phantasmagoria" later mounted by Paul Philidor and Étienne-Gaspard Robertson.
Anthony Frederick Sarg known as Tony Sarg(1880–1942 was born in Cobán, Guatemala, where his father was German Consul. In 1905 he resigned his commission in the German army and took up residence in the United Kingdom, but in 1909 he married Bertha Eleanor McGowan, an American he had met when she was a tourist in Germany. Although they returned to England, they moved, on the outbreak of the First World War, to the USA, settling in New York City in 1915, where he worked as an illustrator and designer, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1920. In 1921 he created the "silhouette animation", The First Circus, for producer Herbert M. Dawley, who was credited as co-animator. Sarg had developed an interest in puppetry as a child as his grandmother was a collector, and for several years he was widely celebrated for his puppetry, culminating in a major display at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, but Sarg went bankrupt in 1939 and died shortly afterwards. In his heydey he was known as "America's Puppet Master", and is sometimes considered the father of modern puppetry in North America.
François Dominique Séraphin(1747–1800) was a French entertainer who developed and popularised shadow plays in France. Séraphin introduced his version of the act at the back of a Versailles inn during the early 1770s and would go on to perform at the Palace of Versailles in front of royalty. In 1784 Séraphin moved to Paris, performing his shows at the newly-opened Palais-Royal from 8 September 1784. During this time Marie Antoinette visited three of his plays. The performances would continue though the French Revolution. He developed the use of clockwork mechanisms to automate the show and his "plays" included La Chasse aux canards(The Duck Hunt), Le Magicien Rothomago and L'Embarras du ménage (The Embarrassment of the Household), Arlequin corasire and Le Pont Cassé (The Broken Bridge), based on a musical piece by Louis-Gabriel Guillemain. Séraphin died in 1800 but his shows continued under the direction of his nephew and others until the theatre closed in 1870.
Charles Urban (1867–1942) born in Cincinnati of German parentage, managed a Kinetoscope and Phonograph parlour in Detroit for Edison in 1895 and was subsequently in charge of the British branch of Maguire and Baucus, who represented Edison in Europe. By 1898 he had formed the Warwick Trading Company to produce English films, as well as to market his own Bioscope projector. The company was particularly noted for its travel and war films and Urban also employed pioneer film-maker G.A. Smith and, with him, developed the Kinemacolor system. In 1903 he formed the Charles Urban Trading Company and remained a figurehead for the British film industry until 1914. After the war he attempted unsuccessfully to re-establish himself in America, then returned to Britain where he spent his later years in relative obscurity.
the Lumières, joined Pathé in around 1902, where he became resposnsible for making trick films. He moved to Italy in 1906 wheer he baceme artistic director of the Cines company but returned to France and to Pathé in 1907 and continued to work for them until 1911.
félicien Trewey (1848-1920) had grown up in Marseille and become internationally famous as a magician,specialising in balancing-acts and « ombromanie » or "shadowgraphy" and an act known as « le chapeau de Tabarin », where he transformed a felt hat to create a multiplicity of characters. He retired as a magician, following a tour of the US,in 1890 but, as a friend of Louis Lumière, revived many of his acts for the cinématographe in January 1896. In February of that year he went as the Lumière concessionaire to London the Lumières but, plagued by the opposition from other companies, he returned to France sometime in 1897-8. In 1900 he was apparently employed by Clément-Maurice to help with the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre at the Paris Exposition. He died in 1920 and his book, The Art of Shadowgraphy: How it is done (Comment cela se fait) was published the same year.
the Lumières, joined Pathé in around 1902, where he became resposnsible for making trick films. He moved to Italy in 1906 wheer he baceme artistic director of the Cines company but returned to France and to Pathé in 1907 and continued to work for them until 1911.
Gabriel Veyre (1871-1936) was a young chemist in the employ of the Lumières. He was sent as an operator to assist the concessionaire Claude-Ferdinand von Bernard in Mexico where President Porfirio Díaz became an enthusiastic supporter (and subject). Veyre emerged as one of the company's most able cinematographers, subsequently travelling, with distinctly less success, to Guadeloupe, Cuba, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. He returned to France in 1897 only to set out again almost immediately for Japan to take over from François-Constant Girel. In 1898 he was dispatched to Québec and then visited China and Vietnam, where, the Lumière operation havign now largely collapsed, he effectively found himself working as a free-lance. He returned to France in 1900 but, after leaving the Lumières' employ the next year, became accredited engineer to Sultan Moulay Abd el Aziz of Morocco,where he stayed, working also as a journalist and photographer, until his death in 1935.
The terms « metteur en scène » (literally "putter in scene") to describe a producer/director and « mise en scène » to describe his or her work, were first used, as far as we know, by the French theatre-director and film-maker André Antoine. Close to novelist Émile Zola, Antoine was a pioneer of "naturalism" in the theatre, believing, with Zola, that naturalism involved realism with an additional emphasis on social and psychological context, hence the emphasis on mise en scène.
This discussion of the relations between Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demenÿ I owe almost wholly to the excellent piece of research by Michel Marié, Thierry Lefebvre and Laurent Mannoni in Théorème, n° 4 «nbsp;Cinéma des premiers temps. Nouvelles contributions françaisesnbsp;», Paris, Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1996.
Accounts of the pioneers of early chronomatography owe much to the excellent complilation edited by Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan, Who's Who of Victorian Cinema, British Film Institute (1996) and to that if its many scholarly contributors. It is fully available on line and constantly being updated.
The original photographic plates had been "wet" and needed to be used within minuted of their preparation and had a slow photographic speed. In the course of the 1870s a more practicable gelatin-coated "dry" plate had been developed in the United States and had been notably commercialised by George Eastman's Film and Dry Plate Company. Lumière's variant, marketed as "étiquette bleue" or "blue label", further increased the speed and produced better results particularly when filming moving objects. Antoine Lumière, in developing his business too fast, had come near to bankruptcy and it was his son's invention that not only saved the company but made the family fortune into the bargain.
Quoted in Popple, Simon and Joe Kember, Early Cinema: From Factory Gate to Dream Factory, London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2004, p. 38.
The use of the French word genre here is not that most commonly found in literary and film criticism (wheer a "genre film" genrally means a film belonging to a particualr genre such as "the horror film" or "the college film") but derives from art criticism and history where "genre painting" (from the sixteenth century onwards) designates a form of painting that sought to get away from biblical or historical sujects ("high genre") in favour of representations of ordinary everyday life ("low gnre"). The expression scènes de genre is a contmporary one and was used to indicate precisely those compossed views that represented a slice of ordinary life of which this film is very typical.
The Tsar was on his way to sign a treaty with France, so the Lumière cameramem had special treatment in Russia. On the other hand, their activities were still carefully controlled; film taken of a disaster that occurred when a stand collapsed was confiscated. When the Tsar visited Wilhelm II of Germany in Breslau, the Lumières were not at all welcome as Wilhelm was eager to prevent the Franco-Russian treaty if he could, and they had to film the ceremony from the back of the auditorium.
Lumière had already staged one exhibition for the Conference on the first day (the 10th June) where he had shown the film La Place de la Bourse à Lyon also known as La Place des Cordeliers à Lyon since this was the initial venue for the conference. He may also have shot Lyon, Place Bellecour for the second exhibition since this was the site of the Salons Monniers where the second exhibition was held. There was a further exhibition at the same site in early December 1895, the penultimate exhibition before the public showing. There was one further private showing in Grenoble on December 17th.
All early film-makers aspired to synchronise sound and picture to some degree and there were many differebnt attempts to do so before symchronised sound became general in 1928-1929. Apparently for the original prjection of this film, the two men dubbed their dialogue from behind a curtain. The film was frequently reshown all both in France and all over the world. Whether a recording of the two men was played to accompany it, we do not know, but it seems likely.
This film had certainly been shown during the year at the private projections but was not as far as we know shown at the first public projection. A series of three films (the first pictured right) were however being shown during the course of the following year.
The view shot in Place de Bellecour is a relatively late number in the catalogue and probably a later film but it is reasonably likely that a view was shot there in 1895 as one of the private projections took place there and the initial object of these Lyon scenes was to impress the spectators with the immediacy of what they were watching.
Only one bathing film was shown as far as we know at the first public projection, showing a group of boys diving and swimming, but a first, described as Les Baigneuses, had certainly been shown during the year at the private projections. The film pictured, Bains en mer, certainly shot at the Lumière's private jetty, was being shown in 1896 but may be a later film. Like L'Incendie, it was part of a series of two, the other, Douche après le bain showing the same group of girls throwing buckets of water over each other back at the Lumière mansion after bathing.
It never hurt (from the point of view of publicity) to maintain thr ambighuity between what was or was not fiction. This film supposedly caused a certain flurry because some believed it to be genuine.
Georges Méliès, being a one-man band and owning his own theatre, was a pioneer of longer films. In 1902, he produced and in but he still catalogued these films as separate one-minute one-reel units, in case distributors might want to buy one or two episodes. Obviously the lack of control over distribution had in that way repercussions on the way that films were made, restricting their continuity, which in turn no doubt was reflected in audience expextations but the equation is that way round. It is not the audience expectations of film that created "cinema of attractions" as Gunning's theory tends to pre-suppose.
Ricoeur, Paul, "Narrative Time" in W. J. T. Mitchell (ed.), On Narrative, Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1981, pp. 181-182.
Gunning Tom, "The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde" in Thomas Elsaesser (ed.), Early Cinema and the Avant-Garde, London: British Film Institute, 1990, pp. 56-62.
Coissac,G.-Michel,Histoire du Cinématographe: De ses origines à nos jours, Paris: Éditions du Cinéopse/Librairie Gauthier-Villars, 1925, p. 349.
Musser, Charles, Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company,Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. For the enthusiastic reception of the Acres film see partuclarly p. 63 (60-70).
The Lumière operator, François Doublier who spent several years touring Russia for teh company, recounts an intersting anecdote in this respect. Russian jews were subject to very considerable oppression at the period and several of his audience shwoed an interst in seeing material concerning the Dreyfuss affair (where a jewish army officer was wrongly accused of espionage and eventually, after a major campaign in his favour,found innocent and pardoned. Doublier had no such material but put together a series of short films which he made out told the story of the affair. Unfortunately for him the audience spotted the subterfuge and he never attempted to do the same again. None of this fits at all with the Gunning caricature of an audience concerned only with "attractions". The story, based on Doublier's memoirs, is retold in Rittaud-Hutinet, Jacques, Le Cinéma des origines. Les frères Lumière et leurs opérateurs, Seyssel: Champ Vallon, 1985 and in Niney, François, L'Épreuve du réel à l'écran: Essai sur le principe de réalité docuemnataire, Bruxelles: De Boeck Supérieur, 2002, p. 34.
The perennity of "attractions" in the cinema is very rightly emphasised in Viva Paci,La Machine à voir: a propos de cinéma, attraction, exhibition, Lille: Presses Univ. Septentrion, 2012
see Wood, David, On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation,London: Routledge, 2002, p. 182.
Press-reports cannot be taken in any sense as a guide to the success or popularity of a film at this time. At around the same time, William Heise also filmed the Niagara Falls for Edison using a camera fixed to the front of a train. This time the idea was good but unfortunately the execution less so. The press faithfully reported the impressive "panorama" produced but it is clear from the Edison catalogues that the films did not come out properly and the whole series had to be remade (minus the panorama). Ironically this was the first known use of a travelling shot of this kind (several months before Alexandre Promio's famous film of Venice taken from a gondola) for which Heise received no credit.
The term "documentary" was first used, as far as we know, by the British documentary film-maker John Grierson of Robert Flaherty's film Moana (1926), set in the South Sea Islands but it was used in deliberate faint praise ("a certain documentary value") of a film that Grierson regarded as sensationalised. In fact Flaherty had spent nearly a year in Samoa, frustrated by the fact that the islanders' lives weregeenrally too harmonious to provide the sort of material he was looking for and in the end concentrated the film on a traditional coming-of-age full-body tattooing process, a process painful enough no doubt but which had actually fallen into disuse in the islands.
US films have of course no "copyright" on cross-cutting but, wheeras its use has largely been confined in US films to the objective of easily comprehensible continuity, to speed of action and to the direction of the viewer's attention to successive frames in order to enhance suspense, in European (and Japanese) traditions it has often been used for quite different purposes. In French films of the late 1920s for instance and, even more prominently in the Russian films of the period, it was used to create powerful montage effects, a sort of collage of images, which have little to do with "continuity" in the limited US sense and are rather designed to create atmosphere, express and provoke emotion or establish symbolic association. This kind of montage is, to this day, relatively rare in US film.
As we have seen, the Lumières were always keen to emphasise the immediacy of the films they made, as in the case of Neuville-sur-Saône: Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon, filmed just before it was shown to the self-same delegates who appear in it.
"Closure..may be regarded as a modification of structure that makes stasis, or the absence of further continuation, the most probable succeeding event. Closure allows the reader [equally of course the viewer] to be satiusfied by the failure of continuation or, put another way, it create in the reader[or viewer] the expectation of nothing". This well-known definition of "closure" by Barbara Herrnstein Smith is perhaps a bit verbose but it will do. From Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1968, p. 34.
The film was shown at al the private showing that preceded the public projection, 22 March 1895 and 16 April 1895 (in Paris). 10 June 1895 and 12 June 1895 (in Lyon), 11 July 1895 (in Paris), 21 September 1895 (at La Ciotat), 10, 12 and 13 November 1895 (in Brussels and Louvain), 16 November 1895 (in Paris), 1st December 1895 (in Lyon) and 11 December 1895 (in Grenoble). It was amongst the films in the public projections at the Grand Café in Paris from 28 December 1895 onwards. It was certainyl shown both in Lyon, Marseille, Brussels and London and perhaps also in Vienna during the months January-March 1896.
The dating for this and the other surviving versions relies on a study of the shadows thrown by the architecture, a procedure of which I am a little sceptical but it is the best indicationof date one can hope for in the circumstances.
Cycling was still at this period predominantly a middle-class activity and was only gradually becoming within the means of working-class folk. The development of the "safety bicycle" (basically the bike we still use today) helped fuel the cycling "boom" of the 1890s when the activity became increasingly associated with a whole range of tendencies seen as modern and progressive, including feminism, socialism and the burgeoning movement to improve the general physical health of the population. Theer is a wealth of literature on the subject but see, for instance, Leonard, Irving A., When Bikehood Was in Flower:Sketches of early cycling, South Tamworth: Bearcamp Press, 1969 and Smith, Robert. A, A Social History of the Bicycle: Its Early Life and Times in America, New York: McGraw Hill, 1972 and Seven Palms Press, 1983 and the French television documentary film La Reine bicyclette - Histoire des Français à vélo (2013)directed by Laurent Védrine.
The association betweens soldiers and snowballing may seem a trifle bizarre to somebody who is notFrench but, as anyone who has seen Abel Gance's film Napoléon (1927) will recall, snowballing has positively Napoleonic connotations to the French. This episode - a snowball fight at the military college where the young Napoléon was a student - was not an invention by Gance. It origintes in the memoirs ofNapoléon's schoolfriend and later secretary, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne (1829-1831) and was already a well-established part of Napoloeonic mythology. It features already for instance in a 1909 Pathé film biography of the Emperor, Napoléon: Du sacre à Saint-Hélène. So, snowballing forthe Frenchis a perfectly respectable soldierly pastime.
There is no certainty as to when Hatot started to work for the Lumières but the Paris Hippodrome for which he had previously worked had already closed by 1896. He was essentially a replacement for Félicien Trewey, Lumière's magician friend, who had been involved in most of the entertainment/fiction films in 1985-1896 but had left in March 1896 as the company's concessionaire in London. SoHatot's services would have been in demand any time after that.