Light from Darkness

HIstory of Cinema

The Lumiere Brothers

The Lumiere brothers followed their father’s advice literally and succeeded in taking the image out of the box. Their invention was ‘Cinamtographe’ and they got their patent registered on 13th February 1895. This word comes from Greek, meaning ‘Writing the Movement’. The Lumiere camera was portable as easily as a cigar box. It doubled as a projector and printer.

History of Cinema


The Lumiere Brothers win the credit for the world’s first public film screening on December 28, 1895. Louis Lumiere and Auguste Lumiere owned one of the largest photographic factories in Europe. Their factory was situated in Lyon, their home town, in France. In fact the first film screened was the ‘Workers leaving the factory in Lyon’ (1895). Though films were screened earlier than this was the December screening was the first public debut. (‘The Gardener’ had been screened on June 10, 1985 well ahead of the public screening.)

The first film clocked 46 seconds. Including this the brothers screened 10 films in total, all clocking less than a minute. Each film was 17 meters long and was directed and produced by the Lumieres. The list of first films screened by Lumiere Brothers is listed below

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  1. La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, “the exit from the Lumière factory in Lyon”, or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds
  2. Le Jardinier (l’Arroseur Arrosé) (“The Gardener,” or “The Sprinkler Sprinkled”), 49 seconds
  3. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon (“the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon”), 48 seconds
  4. La Voltige (“Horse Trick Riders”), 46 seconds
  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges (“fishing for goldfish”), 42 seconds
  6. Les Forgerons (“Blacksmiths”), 49 seconds
  7. Repas de bébé (“Baby’s Breakfast” (lit. “baby’s meal”)), 41 seconds
  8. Le Saut à la couverture (“Jumping Onto the Blanket”), 41 seconds
  9. La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon (“Cordeliers Square in Lyon”—a street scene), 44 seconds
  10. La Mer (Baignade en mer) (“the sea [bathing in the sea]”), 38 seconds


For the first public film screening these films, in the order of screening were shown to the paying customers. As it was a new art not much was known about it among the public. Only 35 people turned up for the show.

Today we are saturated with moving images. After the invasion of the television into our living rooms watching moving images is no longer an event. They only entertain us but do not amuse us. Towards the closing of the 19th century, when these films were first screened the audience were overwhelmed. By then people were only familiar with photographs. They could hardly believe that the still images could move.

It was a new art beholding new power. Even the pioneers of the films were not aware of the impact of what they had just initiated. This new art took the world by storm, even as an infant. Soon it was realized that his art was more powerful than any other art existed till then, because it had engrossed almost all other art know till that date within itself.

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