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The Arrival of a Train (1896)

L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (original title)
A train arrives at La Ciotat station.

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Credited cast:
Madeleine Koehler Madeleine Koehler ... Herself
Marcel Koehler Marcel Koehler ... Himself
Mrs. Auguste Lumiere ... Herself
Jeanne-Joséphine Lumière Jeanne-Joséphine Lumière ... Herself
Rose Lumière ... Herself
Suzanne Lumière Suzanne Lumière ... Herself


A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, the line dissolves. The doors of the railway-cars open, and people on the platform help passengers to get off. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Release Date:

25 January 1896 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Arrival of a Train See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lumière See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.31 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was not included on the tern-film program screened at the Grand Café in December 1895. Though shot in the summer of 1895, it was not screened until 1896. Technically, it was not one of Louis Lumière's earliest films: Of the roughly 60 films that Lumière shot, he had already completed about 25 between March and the end of summer. French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, however (also a former head of the Lumière Institute in Lyons), calls it "the first masterpiece," citing Lumière's keen sense of photographic composition, particularly the use of movement along the diagonal to enhance the impression of depth. In deference to the widely circulated anecdote about panic among the film's first audiences, Tavernier also calls this film "the first horror movie," but any factual basis to the anecdote itself remains highly problematic. Jean-Luc Godard once remarked that "movies are the train, not the station," suggesting that the film becomes "cinema"--a "moving picture"--only when the viewer engages imaginatively with the characters who have been moving with the train rather than identifying with the characters waiting on the platform. Where, for example, have the travelers come from? Did they have adventures there? Why have their adventures brought them to the station at La Ciotat? See more »


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User Reviews

First iconic image of cinema
11 May 2007 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

On December 28, 1895, at Paris's Salon Indien Du Grand Café, the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière transformed the industry of entertainment when they did a demonstration of their new invention. The brothers projected a series of images on a screen, but those images were nothing like a normal slide-show, those images were moving as if they were alive. While the idea of motion pictures wasn't new to the audience (Edison's Kinetoscope was a popular entertainment), the devise's ability to project them on a screen was something they had never seen before. 10 short films of barely a minute of duration each were shown that day, and the invention proved to be an enormous success for the brothers, so immediately they decide to keep making movies in order to improve their catalog. One of those new movies would become the first iconic image of the new art.

"L' Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat" (literally, "Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat") is without a doubt, one of the most famous films in history, as its image of a train arriving to the station, passing very close to the camera as it slows its speed, quickly became an iconic scene of the new invention. While initially conceived as just another one of the brothers' many "actuality films", it's clear that director Louis Lumière knew exactly where to put his camera in order to get the best image of the event as the film shows he had a good idea of the use of perspective (many consider it a study about long shot, medium shot and close-up). As a side-note, this is the film that originated the classic urban legend about people running away scared from the arriving train, thinking it was a real locomotive what was appearing on the screen.

While this famous tale has been debunked by historians as a fake story, it's existence is another testament of this movie's importance and continuous influence on the younger generations. Among the many different art-forms that we can find today, cinema is perhaps the one that better reflects the modern society that arose after the industrial revolution of the 19th Century; because, as painting and sculpture did before, it has become a keeper of the most representative icons of our history. "L' Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat" was not the first movie the brothers screened, and it definitely wasn't the first movie ever made, but despite those details, the image of the arriving train represents the first icon of cinema, and literally, the arrival of a new art form. 9/10

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