There’s this guy named Tony. Well, probably not. His real name was Antoine Lumiere. French. Like a Fry. Or Onion Soup.
Anyway, in 1894, Antoine saw a demonstration of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope. The Kinetoscope. For those of you unfamiliar with this machine, it was Edison’s early footprint for viewing motion. The device was designed for films to be viewed by one person at a time. You could lean over the thing, and look into a little peephole. So the kinetoscope not a movie projector at all. Instead, it gave people the illusion of movement. There was a strip of perforated film rolling, and it had sequential images on it. When you moved it over a light source, it looked like motion. I can tell you, in 1894, this was a big dang deal. But one person. Little peep hole. Leaning over. Stiff neck.
So back to Antoine. Yeah. He was the father of two boys, named Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948), and after he saw Edison’s machine, he took his son’s aside, and said… “Boys, quit playing with those Lincoln logs. I have something else I think you should be working on.” Or something like that.
The elder Lumiere, Antoine, was impressed by the new machine, but he thought his boys could build something better. The one brother Louis, you see, had this little factory in Lyon. It was successful at producing photographic plates and such.
So. Little Louis and Auguste rolled up their sleeves and got to work. It took them a year, but Louis Lumiere’s Cinematographe, was patented in 1895. It was a combination movie camera and projector. Yeppers. That thing could display moving images on a screen for an audience. The Cinematographe was also smaller, lighter and used less film than Edison’s technology.
The boys, old August and Louis, did not stop there. They went on to open theaters (known as cinemas) in 1896 to show their work. They sent crews of cameramen around the world to screen films and shoot new material.
So from there it all took off. In America, things really lit up. In 1896, Vitascope Hall, came to be the first theater in the U.S. devoted to showing movies. It opened in New Orleans. Many followed after that.
The flashy side of the industry was a little slower to roll onward. It took until 1911 for the first Hollywood film studio to open. Mr. Bowler hat, that Charlie Chaplin, made his big-screen debut in 1914. And the world never looked back.
Motion pictures, animation. We love to watch it all.
And I tell you all of this, because of history. It was on this day in 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. That very first film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere. The movie? Well, in French it is Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon. In English, that translates into “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory.” It was a real nail-biter I’ll tell you. But in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t give up the spoiler.
Finally, the translation of “light” in French is “lumière.” How cool is that?
So today. Shine your light, however you can.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle