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Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895)

La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon (le Premier Film) (original title)
A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... See full summary »

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This is another one-shot Lumiere Brothers film, which consists of a single shot of a boat leaving the port, being watched by members of the Lumiere family.

Director: Louis Lumière
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Storyline

A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in long dresses and big hats, but some are men. Suddenly a man with a long apron rushes out through the crowd, followed by a big dog. At last some men on bikes leave the gateway. When all workers have left the factory, the doorkeeper starts closing the gates again. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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22 March 1895 (France)  »

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Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory  »

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1.33 : 1
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This film's existence was forgotten shortly after it was screened. It was rediscovered in 1985 in Lyon, France, 90 years after it was shot. See more »

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Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: European New Wave (2011) See more »

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A sense of time and place
27 February 2003 | by (Houston, Texas) – See all my reviews

All films made before 1912 really need to be viewed with a sense of time and place.

In 1894, the Lumiere-family men [father: Antoine (1840-1911), sons: Auguste and Louis] owned and managed a factory that manufactured photographic plates and paper. Not a small enterprise; the factory had more than 200 employees who received pension and social security benefits - innovative for that time. It was located at Montplaisir in the suburbs of Lyon, France. What caused Louis Lumiere to become interested in building a Cinematagraph, in 1894, remains open for speculation. My suggestion is that the appearance of the Edison organization's Kinetoscope (peep-show machine), in Paris during the fall of 1894, provided the catalyst.

W.K.L. Dickson, of Edison's staff, invented a motion-picture camera about the size of an upright piano that was patented in February 1893. It was electrically operated (using power from from heavy storage batteries. This massive machine pumped celluloid film strip (newly developed by the Eastman company) past a lens at about 40 frames-per-second (fps). It was ensconced, as an almost immovable object, in the "Black Maria" (essentially the first movie studio.) The Kinetescope machines showed staged presentations (less than one-minute long)that were filmed in this studio.

During 1894, Louis Lumiere applied himself to the task of inventing a moving-picture camera. He had determined that, even at 16 fps on celluloid film, the persistence-of-vision of the human eye/brain would allow for normal motion to be perceived. His camera, dubbed the Cinematograph, was about the size of a large shoe box and was provided with a detachable film magazine that provided storage for enough film to make a shoot last about one minute when it was had cranked past the lens at 16 fps.

The size and light weight, of the camera (it could be converted into a printer or a projector by the addition of a light source) made it portable enough that it could be taken to any location to record an event (provided there was enough sunlight available.) In the spring of 1895, Louis filmed: trick-riding by some cavalry men; a house on fire with firemen arriving and dousing the engulfed building with water; and a number of other scenes in and around Lyon. Using a Molteni bulb, he turned the camera into a projector and presented his films to scientists assembled in the reception room of the Revue Generales des Science. The images were projected on a screen five-meters distant from the lens. The screen was stretched in a doorway between two rooms. At a meeting of professional photographers, that same year, Louis photographed the arriving delegates and the same evening showed them motion pictures of their arrival.

With accolades from both the scientific and photographic communities, Louis decided to have a public exhibition of his invention by the end of the year. Since each of his films would be about one-minute long, he would need at least a dozen films to make a good presentation. For one of these films he set up his camera at the entrance to his factory, photographing the egress of employees at quitting-time.

The public venue chosen by Antoine - who offered himself as the "fairground barker" for the Cinematograph - was the Salon Indien of the Grand Cafe on the boulevard des Capucines in Paris. It was a wintry Saturday night on 28 December, 1895. As the first audience sat, they were presented with a projected view of the exterior of the Lumiere factory (with closed gates.) Some were chagrined that they were just going to see a routine slide show of Lumiere photographs. But then the crank on the camera/projector was turned and movement began. Louis had an innate sense for motion picture taking. This film has a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, the doors are opened and people begin to leave their workplace; during the middle, the people stream out - with many trying to ignore the camera, and the cameraman, as they seem to be happy to leave a day of labor behind them. At the end, the gates to the factory are being closed.

And this was the first film projected for the entertainment of the general public.


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