In 1895, the Lumière brothers Louis and August debuted their invention a camera-projector for motion pictures called the Cinématographe. On December 28th of that year, they showed their films, a series of short clips of scenes from everyday life, at the Grand Cafe in Paris. Though they had shown their films to the public before, this was the first time they charged admission to the showing, making it the first commercial movie screening.
The Lumière brothers were not the only French pioneers of the cinema. Their contemporary Georges Méliès created many early films such as “A Trip to the Moon.” He is featured in the Oscar-winning 2011 film Hugo in which the young protagonists rediscover his lost work, which was interrupted by the Great War.
We can only wonder what the Lumiere brothers and Méliès would think of the modern film industry which has gone so far past their initial efforts. In any case, this is an appropriate time to celebrate their accomplishments. According to a family member employed by the Harkins Theater chain, the day immediately following Christmas is the most popular movie-going time of the year.
An informal poll: who hasn’t gone to a movie theater since Christmas?
French flag photo by Dinkum. photo of Cinématographe by Victorgrigas.