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First Films Committed To Celluloid

Our ancestors shared stories around the campfire. They solidified their words by painting images on walls. Centuries later, film enabled us to preserve pictures that moved. Here are some of the first dynamic images which sparked the cinematic phenomena.

Shot in 1888, “Roundhay Garden Scene” was filmed by Louis Le Prince and merely showed his relatives standing outside his house. Just ten days following the making of this short, one of the “actors,” Le Prince’s mother-in-law, died at age 72. The two-second film was a testament to how cinema could immortalize.

In 1895, “The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots” was produced by inventor Thomas A. Edison. Actor Robert Thomae, dressed as Queen Mary, is beheaded with an axe. The realism of the camera work made audiences believe they were watching a real execution. Thomae, was, in fact, replaced by a dummy. This was surprising movie magic for its time, when there was no such technology as CGI.

“The Kiss” (1896) plays for 15 seconds and is a silent film featuring two actors, Mary Irwin and John Price. The couple is seated, lovingly talking for a few moments; then they give a quick kiss on the lips, and the film fades out. This display of affection was considered highly controversial in its time. “The Kiss” can be seen in the final film montage in Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction “The Great Movie Ride.”

In 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumiere made ten films throughout France. Each film depicted an everyday image in motion -- workers and covered horse-drawn wagons leaving a factory after a day's work; passengers exiting a boat onto a dock; and a baby being fed at the table by its parents. One film titled "The Gardener" is of a man watering his garden with a hose when a second man walks up from behind and steps on the garden hose, stopping the water flow. When the gardener looks into the hose to figure out what is wrong, the second man lifts his foot, and the gardener gets a splash of water in the face.

Not great stories or epic creations, but thanks to cinematic preservation societies around the world, we are able to view these pioneering images more than a 100 years later.

Provided below are the following links to view these films on youtube.com:

Roundhay Garden Scene

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

The Kiss

10 Films by The Lumiere Brothers

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