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World's First Film

 
 

World's First Film - Have you seen it ?

 

Today films are everywhere and they are huge business. The entertainment industry is one of the biggest in the world and they shape our culture and the way we live to a great degree influencing everything from fashion to politics. They are sometimes throw away entertainment, sometimes works of classic art, and sometimes serious documentaries aimed at changing the world. Further we today make films ourselves – we film our holidays, we film events and we film unusual sightings. Never before have people been able to so wantonly record and document things (sometimes arguably to our detriment).
But it wasn't always like this, and there was a time when moving pictures were considered new technology in the same way quantum hard drives are today. The potential for films though was already apparent and of course their early development was an incredibly exciting time. But what was the world's first film? When that technology was first put together, what was it used to record?

Well the world's first film is often said to be 'Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory', but in actual fact this was predated by an impressive seven years by Louis Le Prince's 1888 film 'Roundhay Garden Scene' making this the world's first film – or at least the world's oldest surviving film.

The world's first film wasn't quite Schindler's List in scope or ambition, and it didn't quite have the effects of Micheal Bay's Transformers series as you might imagine. Rather it was of course black and white and recorded at just 12 frames per second. It ran for a total of 2.11 seconds.

If this was the world's first film, then the world's first film stars were Adolphe Le Prince, Joseph Whitley and Harriet Hartley filmed in Joseph's garden in Roundhay, Leeds, England. The plot is rather thin on the ground too and simply shows them walking around the garden in attire typical of the period. Interestingly though Sarah walks backwards in the video. The footage in its entirety was lost, though the National Science Museum recovered 20 frames of it and a digitally 'remastered version' (before the Star Wars remasters...) was produced by the national Museum of Photography with 53 frames. The film was made on an 1885 Eastman Kodak paper base photographic film with photography via a single-lens combi camera-projector.

The other film often credited as the world's first film as mentioned is 'Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon' though this is often shortened to 'Employees Leaving the Factory' or just 'Exiting the Factory'. This film has the claim of being the first real motion picture ever filmed with a 46 second running time. Filmed via an all in one camera that was also a film projector and developer the film was first shown in 1895 after it was directed, filmed and produced by Louis Lumière. The film also represented a step up in terms of frame rate at 16 frames per second. As the title suggests it shows workers leaving the Lumière factory most of whom are female, though three separate versions of the film exist showing different styles of clothing and some of which include horses. Of course neither of these films yet exhibited sound which wouldn't come until some time afterward.

Given the age of both films, they have fallen back into the public domain and so can be viewed or downloaded for free online. So if you want to take a step back in time and enjoy a little film history, then why not check them out on YouTube? And think – without these we wouldn't have Harry Potter...

 
   

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