The sound has been found in the form of an old Edisonian recording cylinder. The cylinder was repaired, then Walter Murch ACE MPSE synced the film to the correct music in (I believe) 2002. Total running time is approximately 17 seconds.
The clip shows a jockey, Domm, riding a horse, Sally Gardner. The clip is not filmed but instead consists of 24 individual photographs shot in rapid succession, making a moving picture when using a zoopraxiscope.
Motion pictures were seeing a huge development in quality by 1894. There was Louis le Prince, who had created the world's first known celluloid film (and thus the first true motion picture, unless you count a bunch of photographs put together a 'moving picture'). There was Edison studios, who had created the first movies in the United States, (and who also wanted to prove themselves the inventors of the motion pictures, period). Then, there was Etienne-Jules Marey, a little-known Frenchman and filmmaker who started his career as a scientist and studier of animals. Long before Marey had bothered to attempt filming of the some of the first moving pictures, he was actually a photographer quite similar to Eadweard Muybridge in the sense that he also pioneered in motion pictures by still images, using animals and nude models for subjects to photograph. It was not until later in his career in photography that Marey succeeded where Muybridge didn't: it was he who became one of the earliest true filmmakers.
"Falling Cat" was shot using Marey's chronophotographic gun, a camera of sorts resembling a shotgun. Using this invention, Marey thus conducted his most well-remembered experiment, performed at the Bois de Boulogne public park in France: to prove, once and for all, whether or not cats always land on their feet when dropped. (Of course, this will no doubt bring to mind Muybridge's attempts at discovering whether a horse becomes air-born when galloping, another reason why the two are very similar to each-other). To conduct the experiment, the cat was accordingly dropped upside down from the top of the frame, and is shown to twist around in mid-air before landing safely on a cushion at the bottom of the frame.
Arguably, this short experimental film is also believed to have been the earliest film to feature a cat, and thus the earliest LOLcat video on YouTube. While I would say that's not far from the truth, there's no way of knowing for sure: don't forget the Edison company shot "Boxing Cats" the same year. The latter could be considered a LOLcat more than this one could, in the sense it includes funnier action; but until filming dates for both films are found, I don't believe there's any way to figure out for sure whether or not this claim can be considered correct.
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