Directed By: Louis Lumière
Starring: Auguste Lumière, Andrée Lumière, François Clerc, Benoît Duval
Trivia: These were the 1st movies ever projected to a paying audience
December 28, 1895 is an important date in the history of motion pictures. On that day, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, both of whom got their start working at their father’s photography firm, presented what was the first public film exhibition, showing a collection of their short movies in the basement of the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris to a crowd of paying customers. In all, the Lumières screened 10 films that night, and I was happy to find that 3 of them: Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, Baby’s Lunch, and The Sprinkler Sprinkled, are featured on my Landmarks of Early Film, Vol. 1 DVD, which was released by Image Entertainment back in 1997 (a DVD that, unfortunately, has since gone out of print).
All three of these shorts, which were directed by Louis Lumière, run for less than a minute, and were shot by way of a device known as the cinematograph, a specialized piece of equipment developed (and patented) by the brothers that was a movie camera and projector all rolled into one. The first film shown during that historic screening at the Grand Café was Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, which was also the first that the brothers ever made. The title is the synopsis, and is as basic as the movie itself: employees working at the Lumière photography plant (most of whom were apparently women) head home for the evening after a hard day’s work (where the big dog came from is anybody’s guess). Next up is a short every bit as straightforward titled Baby’s Lunch, in which Auguste Lumière and his wife enjoy an outdoor meal with their infant daughter, Andrée. The final short, The Sprinkler Sprinkled, is about a gardener (François Clerc) who’s the victim of a practical joke played by a young man (Léon Trotobas ). Aside from being the first in the group that tries to tell a story, The Sprinkler Sprinkled is also an early example of screen comedy.
Considered by many the first true filmmakers, Auguste and Louis Lumière are among the early pioneers of moving images, and while their December 1895 exhibition was undoubtedly a simple affair (a photo taken during the event is posted above), it ultimately launched what has since become a billion-dollar industry.