Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Born on this Day: Louis Lumière, Inventor of the Cinema & the First "Cat Video"

From left, Auguste and Louis Lumière

Louis Lumière, born on this date in 1864, was, along with his brother Auguste, responsible for the invention of the cinema. This may be a controversial statement, since, as Americans, we all know that Thomas Edison invented the kinetoscope which allowed viewers to experience the illusion of motion through viewing of sequential photographs.

No one can dispute that Edison was the first to present motion pictures. But the cinema is a different matter. Edison's device allowed solitary viewers to insert money and peer into a machine ("a very American idea" as Lumière Institute Thierry Frémaux noted in a recent screening of the Lumières' first films). The cinema, that is to say, the shared experience of motion pictures presented in public, was the invention of the brothers Lumière. Their very brief films range from documentation of the world around them, to early comedies.

Here is the first commercially exhibited film, a shot of workers leaving the Lumière photographic factory in 1895:


And here is what must be the world's earliest cat "video"from 1897:

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