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Louis Lumière
Born: Besançon, France, 5 October 1864.
Died: 1948.

Auguste Lumière
Born: Besançon, France, 1862.
Died: 1954.

Louis Lumière (JPG, 19 KB)
Louis Lumière

French pioneers. Louis and Auguste Lumière ran their father Antoine's photographic business in Lyons. Louis was the brilliant inventor of the Cinematograph (meaning "writing in movment", later shortened to "cinema"). He built on previous inventions such as Edison's Kinetoscope, but with the key addition of a mechanism allowing the intermittent motion of the film in the camera, based on the sewing machine. The Cinematograph was both camera and projector. The invention was patented in February 1895, first demonstrated on 22 March 1895 and then through the summer at various learned societies and congresses. Its hugely successful public screening on 28 December 1895 in Paris constitutes the official "birth" of cinema. The uncannily aptly-named Lumières (as Jean-Luc Godard pointed out) were canny businessmen. To demonstrate their apparatus, they recorded trains entering stations (L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat), workers leaving (their) factories (La Sortie des usines Lumière), participants at conferences, etc. They showed a fascination for the trappings of modernity as well as idyllic views of bourgeois domesticity in sunlit gardens such as Le Déjeuner de bébé, and little comic scenes (L'Arroseur arrosée) [all films, 1895]. Meanwhile, their cinematographers travelled all over the world shooting actualités, world events and the European colonial expansion, building a catalogue of over a thousand films over the next two years. The Lumière documentary approach is often simplistically contrasted with the fantasy and invention of Georges Méliès. But while even these earliest films show an attention to framing and narrative organization, Lumière cameramen also produced religious scenes, such as the thirteen-tableau La Vie et la passion de Jésus-Christ (1897). The films having achieved their purpose, the Lumières stopped production to concentrate on technical developments such as wide-screen, colour and 3-D cinema. The Lumière home in Lyons is now a museum at the splendid address of 1, rue du Premier Film.

— Ginette Vincendeau, Encyclopedia of European Cinema

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