On this day December 28, 1895
The Lumière brothers perform for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines marking the debut of the cinema. The Lumières held their first private screening of projected motion pictures March 22, 1895.
Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Paris’s Salon Indien du Grand Café.
This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory).
Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.
It is believed their first film was actually recorded that same year (1895) with Léon Bouly’s cinématographe device, which was patented the previous year. The cinématographe— a three-in-one device that could record, develop, and project motion pictures— was further developed by the Lumières.
The public debut at the Grand Café came a few months later and consisted of the following ten short films (in order of presentation):
- La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, “the exit from the Lumière factories in Lyon”, or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds
- La Voltige (“Horse Trick Riders”), 46 seconds
- La Pêche aux poissons rouges (“fishing for goldfish”), 42 seconds
- Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon (“the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon”), 48 seconds
- Les Forgerons (“Blacksmiths”), 49 seconds
- Le Jardinier (l’Arroseur Arrosé) (“The Gardener,” or “The Sprinkler Sprinkled”), 49 seconds
- Le Repas (de bébé) (“Baby’s Breakfast”), 41 seconds
- Le Saut à la couverture (“Jumping Onto the Blanket”), 41 seconds
- La Place des Cordeliers à Lyon (“Cordeliers Square in Lyon”–a street scene), 44 seconds
- La Mer (Baignade en mer) (“the sea [bathing in the sea]”), 38 seconds
The Lumières went on tour with the cinématographe in 1896 – visiting Bombay, London and New York.
The moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture with L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de la Ciotat (literally, “the arrival of a train at La Ciotat Station”, but more commonly known as Arrival of a Train at a Station).
Their actuality films, or actualités, are often cited as the first, primitive documentaries. They also made the first steps towards comedy film with the slapstick of L’Arroseur Arrosé.