Saturday, June 09, 2018

Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory/La sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon (1895)

I’ve often wondered if inventors understand things that they set in motion.  Gutenberg didn’t invent the book.  He didn’t even invent the printing press.  He did make a moveable type that made it cheaper to print books.   Thanks to him, I grew up with bibles in every hotel room.  I sometimes wonder what he would think of things like newspapers, romance novels or even the Internet.  Paper isn’t even required any more.

The same could be said of movies.  I’ve been looking at IMDb’s lower-numbered titles.  These aren’t necessarily the earliest, mind you.  I did get curious to see what had gotten the #1 spot, or rather TT0000001.  That belongs to Carmencita.  #10 belongs to La sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon, or Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory.  Both films are short and appear to be simply a recording of everyday events.

Carmencita is a woman dancing.  Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory is, as you might expect, people walking out of a factory.  They’re leaving through one large gateway and a regular door.  There are apparently three different versions.  What’s the difference?  It appears to be the presence or absence of a dog and/or a horse.  (It’s easy to find the different versions on YouTube.)

It’s hard to find a list of movies from this far back.  Clicking on 1895 on IMDb doesn’t even bring up this movie, let alone any others, so it’s difficult for me to judge what the industry was like back then.  It is what you would call silent, even if it is accompanied by music.  It’s also in black and white.  There’s no dialogue of any kind.  I was hoping to see if the content was the norm or the exception.  Were most films of the day just shorts like this?  According to Wikipedia, feature-length films started about a decade later.

I wonder if the pioneers of film technology could imagine people having a video camera in their pockets.  We can record videos of our cats or of our neighbors and post it online for all to see.  I remember there being a meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere in Russia; it was well-documented because everyone had dashboard cameras in their cars.  Everyone has the ability to record motion pictures now.   I think there were stereoscopic still pictures back then, so I think 3-D movies would have been conceivable.  I would think adult movies would also have been considered.  I have to wonder, though, how the makers of this film would have reacted to modern technology.

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