Lumiere Brothers First Films

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Mike O'Wave

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Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostSat Feb 23, 2008 1:50 am

I am trying to do a project of watching films in chronological order but do not have dates on most of the films on the Lumiere disk. I know that most of them are from 1895-1897 and Paris exhibition ones are 1900, but would like to narrow it in a little better than that if possible.

Richard Able's "The Cine' Goes to Town" says that the Lumiere catalogs are reprinted in Sadoul's "Lumiere et Melies". Does anyone have this book?

These are the films on the disk. The ones with ??? are ones I am trying to identify:

1. Workers Leaving the Factory (March 19. 1895)
2. Workers Leaving the Factory (Spring or Fall 1895)
3. Workers Leaving the Factory (Summer 1895)
4. Neuville-sur-Saône: Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon (June 12, 1895)

5. Le Repas (de bébé) [Baby's meal] (1895)
6. L' Arroseur arrosé (june 1895)
7. Partie de cartes (1895)
8. L'Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (1896)
9. Démolition d'un mur (1896)
10. ??? Lyon Street scene (camera tracks forward at beginning and then backward at end perhaps on trolley tracks)

11. Place des Cordeliers à Lyon (1895)
12. Panorama de l'arrivée en gare de Perrache pris du train (1896)
13. ??? Arrival of train on the left- another train arrives on the right from the other direction
14. ??? La Boule lyonnaise (French Ball Game) perhaps Partie de boules (1895)
15. ??? Carriages ride through flooded street
16. ??? child walks, falls down, grabs for doll on sidewalk
17. Petite fille et son chat (1899)
18. ??? a boy in the middle feeds two girls in high chairs grapes
19. Défilé de voitures de bébés à la pouponnière de Paris (1899)
20. Bataille d'oreillers (no. 2) (1897)
21. ??? Boys in the street playing marbles
22. Bicycliste (1896)
23. Fête de Paris 1899: Concours d'automobiles fleuries (1899)
24. ??? Moving sidewalk Paris Exhibition 1900
25. Water toboggan (montagnes russes sur l'eau) 1896
26. ???French army training jumping on horses
27. ???French Army blanket tossing a soldier
28. ??? Lumiere family throwing balls in a game at their house
29. Football (1897)
30. ??? bag race
31. ??? well known film of boat rowing out to sea
32. ???French Army in berets doing choreographed drill
33. Krémos: Sauts perilleux (1899)
34. Kremos II (1899)
35. ???Shipyard scene in south of France
36. ??? road making machine
37. ??? Field workers raking
38. ??? Boat at sea taking in laundry
39. Carmaux, défournage du coke (1986)
40. ???Women doing laundry in the river
41. ???Chambery street scene in the Alps
42. ???Stone carver horses
43. ???Champs Elysees carriages
44. ???Tracking shot in Venice
45. ??? Front of Empire theater
46. ??? Dublin Firemen
47. ???Belfast Firemen raise gigantic ladder
48. ???Berlin Street scene
49. ???Dancers at Spanish Pavillion doing Flamenco at 1900 Exposition
50. ???Spanish Army dancing at many different speeds
51. New York, pont de Brooklyn (June 1896)
52. ???Fulton Street scene
53. ???Broadway Street Scene- Reilly's sign in background
54. Chicago défilé de policemen (1896)
55. ???Horses and ducks in water in Mexico
56. ??? Russia- Pereskia street
57. ???Jerusalem Street scene
58. ??? Egypt - Sphinx
59. ???Algeria - The Muslim's prayer
60. ???Turkey - Uniformed men on horses
61. ???Istanbul - tracking shot from boat
62. ??? Vietnam - Lifting a cow onto a boat
63. ??? Smoking the Opium
64. ???Indochina - Women throw grains which children rush to pick up - reminiscent of "Feeding the Doves"

65. ??? Japan- Men fight with sticks while boy bangs gong
66. ??? Knife dance African Pavillion Universal Exposition
67. ??? Comedian clowns (Footy? and Chocolat)
68. ??? Mechanical Delicatessen (Perhaps "The Sausage Machine?)
69. ??? The Grotesque Roller Skater
70. ??? Matress maker women get in a fight and then pull a gun on a man who tries to break them up.

71. ???Women is walking a boy while reading a newspaper - soldier takes boys place as a joke.

72. ??? The Music Lover Wood Sawyer-- Man saws wood with a trombone with a saw attached to the slide. (very funny!)

73. ??? Man gets run over by car and put back together again (trick photography - two edits)

74. ??? The Lover in the Bag
75. ??? Boat rowers --Potemkinseque
76. ??? Snowball fight
77. Azerbaijan, Baku - The Oil Gush Fire in Bibiheybat (Aug. 6, 1898)
78. ??? Ship Launch
79. ??? Indochina- Camera is in Rickshaw - Children run towards it as it rides away.

80. Danse serpentine (1897)
81. ??? The Happy Skeleton
82. ??? Men put up signs about the Cinematographe and then get in a fight
83. ??? Writing Backwards


Thanks,

Michael
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greta de groat

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PostSat Feb 23, 2008 11:32 am

Here's another book that might have the info:

La production cinématographique des frères Lumière.
[Paris] : Bibliothèque du film : Editions Mémoires de cinéma : Diffusion, CDE, 1996].
557 p. ; 29 cm. + 1 computer laser optical disc (4 3/4 in.)
(Librairie du premier siècle du cinéma)
Catalog compiled by the Archives du film du C.N.C. and the Université Lumière--Lyon 2.
CD-ROM includes video of some films.
ISBN 2950904815

I cataloged this many years ago and remember it as being a very large catalog. Perhaps you could get it through interlibrary loan, as it's doubtful it's in print still. I looked it up in Worldcat by ISBN, that seemed to work better than a title search. Not sure where you are, but i see UCLA has it. I found a handful of copies for sale online but they are pretty expensive.

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Greta de Groat
Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat
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urbanora

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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 5:35 am

La production cinématographique des frères Lumière is the standard source. Also useful, though selective, is Jacques Rittaud-Hutinet, Auguste et Louis Lumière: Les 1000 premiers films (Paris: Philippe Sers Editeur, 1990), ISBN 2904057463. Though it's only the first 1000 films (they made around 2000) and it's not terribly helpful over dates, it does illustrate a great many of them with frame stills (which La production cinématographique des frères Lumière does not do), making it a very helpful guide for the identification of the films.
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Mike O'Wave

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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 3:22 pm

Thanks for the help, Greta and Luke.

After some tedious searching on the internet title by title, I've managed to come up with French names for about 75% of the titles so far and at least the year for almost all of them. I wrote an email to the Lumiere Institute asking if they had the titles and dates. I'll be surprised if they have them handy and ready to email, but you never know. I'll ask my library here in fabulous Charleston, SC if they can borrow a copy of La production cinématographique des frères Lumière.

When I get the list as complete as I can, I will repost it because there are quite a few film diaries on the internet that list a bunch of titles that are "Unnamed Lumiere Film 1895/7".

There is an upside to having to do all this searching, though. I had basically thought of the Lumiere story as the invention of a very portable camera that made films under one minute in length that was then sent around the world for a few years before they quit. To be honest I didn't really think it would matter that much for my chronological film project if I got the dates right.

I've since come to appreciate that this is also the story of such men I had never heard of as Alexandre Promio, Gabriel Veyre and Georges Hatot and their individual journeys with their cameras, development of their crafts and launching of their careers. Some of these are very interesting stories within the big story that I will watch for as I do the project.

--Michael
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PostSun May 30, 2010 4:44 pm

I'm reviving Mike's old thread because I did some research back in 2008 in which I tried to identify all the home-accessible films. After a couple of visits to the LOC, this is what I came up with for Kino's old disk. I'm finally getting around to doing something with it.

BTW: The entire Kino disk is on You Tube, whether authorized or not.

Dates are generally the date of filming rather than the date of first public showing, though a known public showing might establish the end date of a date range. Much of the information on dates comes from La Production cinématographique des frères Lumières.

The should help to provide an index to the disk, which Kino really should have done in the first place.

1-3. La Sortie des usine Lumière. [1] March 19, 1895. [2] spring or fall 1895. [3] summer 1895. Cat. #91. Disk at 2:20, 2:56, 3:29.

Flicker Alley adds another 1896 factory exit on its Saved From the Flames Disk, but I doubt its claim to be a Lumière film. It runs too long (70") to have been filmed on Lumière's cinematographe. Anyway, there were other filmmakers shooting factory exits in 1896, Georges Méliès being one.

4. Neuville-sur-Saône: Debarquement du Congrès des Photographes à Lyon. June 12, 1895. Uncatalogued. 4:08.

5. Repas de bébé. Date range: March 22 to June 10, 1895. #88. 4:45.

6. L'Arroseur arrosé. Date range: March 22 to June 10, 1895 (the vegetation and activity suggests a later date in this window). #99. 5:17.

7. Partie d'écarté. Probable date range: January 16 to February 9, 1896 during the Lumière's stay at La Ciotat. #73. 5:53.

8. L'Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat. Summer 1897 re-shoot, with the date reasonably established by the ages of the Lumière children scampering up and down the platform. The original January 16 to February 9, 1896 film is believed lost, at least as of a few years ago. Two versions are on the web: the summer 1897 film (introduced by its French title); and another version taken sometime in cooler months (introduced by its English title; possibly a fall 1896 remake when the original's negative wore out. Anyone who knows something about this version please chime in.) #653. 6:36

9. Démolition d'un mur II. 1896, by March 6. #40. 7:18.

10. Lyon: La Place du Pont. Date range: 1897 to April 29, 1900. The high catalogue number suggests a date toward the end of this range. #1126. 8:53.

11. Place des Cordeliers à Lyons. c. May 10, 1895. #128. 9:33.

12. Panorama de l'arrivée en gare de Perrache pris du train. Date range: October 25 to November 6, 1896. #130. 10:07.

13. Lyon: arrivée d'un train à Perrache. 1896, by March 23. #127. 10:47.

14. Concours de Boules. May 24-26, 1896. #27. 11:25.

15. Lyon: Quai de l'Archevêché; inondations. November 1-8, 1896. #158. 12:02.

16. Premiers pas de bébé (vers le jouet). Probably spring or summer 1896, depending on which baby this is in the Lumière extended family. Andrée Lumière or Madeleine Koehler? Uncatalogued. 12:48.

17. La Petite fille et son chat. Before May 1900. Niece Madeleine Koehler is nearing age five. #1100. 13:28.

18. Le Goûter des bébés. Summer 1897. From left to right: Madeleine Koehler, Marcel Koehler, Suzanne Lumière. #654. 14:08.

19. Défilé de voitures de bébés à la poupponnière de Paris. Summer 1897, 1898, or 1899. Probably 1899, based on high catalogue #1099. 14:51.

20. Bataille d'oreillers (#2). 1897 or 1898 (by December 5). High catalogue #960 suggests a later date in this range. 15:34.

21. Enfants jouant aux billes. 1896, by October 4. #50. 16:16.

22. Bicycliste. Winter 1896-97, by April 25, 1897. #17. 17:01.

23. Concours d'automobiles fleuries. June 12, 1899. #1008 or 1009. 17:41.

24. Vue prise d'une plate-forme mobile II. April 15-July 8, 1900. #1100. 18:23.

25. Water Toboggan (montagnes russes sur l'eau). Probably filmed in the warmer months of 1896, but definitely by May 1, 1897. #98. 19:05.

26. Voltige. Spring 1896 to May 1, 1897. #194. 19:48.

27. Saut à la couvert. Summer 1896 to May 1 1897 during warmer months. #192. 20:27.

28. Partie de boules. January 16-April 13, 1896. #72. 21:10.

29. Football. July 21-October 21, 1897. #699. 21:56.

30. Course en sacs. Autumn 1896, by October 25. #109. 22:37.

31. Barque sortant du port. Summer 1897 (date determined by age of children on the quay). #9. 23:16.

32. 24ème chasseurs alpins: leçon de boxe. February 1 to March 7, 1897. #171. 23:55.

33. Les Kremo: sauts périlleux. May 30-July 14, 1899. #1040. 24:35.

34. Les Kremo: sauts périlleux par deux. (Probable identification: there are six films in this group not differentiated except by title.) May 30-July 14, 1899. #1042. 25:18.

35. Ateliers de La Ciotat. January 16 to March 22 1896. #2. 26:07.

36. Lyon: travaux au Canal de Jonage: machine à damer. Spring 1897. #637. 26:51.

37. Faneurs. Summer 1896 to November 27, 1897. #635. 27:33.

38. à Bord du Formidable: ramassage du linge. February 1 to 19, 1898. #824. 28:18.

39. Carmaux, défournage du coke. January 25 to July 12, 1896. #122. 29:01.

40. Laveuses sur la rivière. Spring 1896 to October 22, 1897. #626. 29:36.

41. Chamonix: le village. May 25, 1899 to April 15, 1900. Catalogue number #1209 suggests a later date in this range, but it does not appear to be winter. 30:19.

42. Attelage du camion. Spring 1896 to November 27, 1897. #627. 31:04.

43. [Champs-Élysées]. The catalogue lists two 1896 films of this title, but neither description fits the film on disk. This is apparently an uncatalogued variant, shot in the summer of a year prior to any automobile traffic. 31:51

44. Panorama du Grand Canal vu d'un bateau. October 25 to December 13, 1896. #295. 32:31.

45. Londres, entrée du cinématographe. March 8 to April 27, 1896. #250. 33:11.

46. Pompiers: une incendie II. June 21 to October 21, 1897. #710. 33:53.

47. Pompiers: exercises de sauvetage. June 21 to October 21, 1897. #724. 34:34.

48. Berlin: Panoptikum-Friedrichstrasse. June 9-September 6, 1896. #219. 35:17.

49. Danse espagnole de la feria cuadro flamenco. April 15 to July 8, 1900. #1124. 35:54.

50. Danse aux bivouac. June 12-30, 1896. #266. 36:25.

51. New York: arrivée d'un train à Battery Place. September 1-25, 1896. #320. 37:05.

52. Brooklyn: Fulton Street. September 1-25, 1896. #330. 37:36.

53. Whitehall Street. September 1-25, 1896. #329. 38:05.

54. Chicago, défilé de policemen. September 1-25, 1896. #336. 38:28.

55. Baignade de Chevaux. October 20-November 12, 1896. #357. 39:07.

56. Rue Tverskaïa. May 19-June 1, 1896. #307. 39:47.

57. Jerusalem, Port de Jaffe, cöte est. April 3-25, 1897. #401. 40:29.

58. Les Pyramides: vue générale. March 12-April 3, 1897. #381. 41:09.

59. Priere du muezzin. December 15-25, 1896. #197. 41:50.

60. Défilé de l'artillerie turque. April 3-25, 1897. #415. 42:30.

61. Panorama de la Corne d'Or. April 3-25, 1896. #416. 43:10.

62. Embarquement d'un boeuf à bord d'un navire. April 28, 1899-March 2 1900. #1286. 43:51.

63. Fumerie d'opium. April 28, 1899-March 2, 1900. #1270. 44:22.

64. Enfants annanites ramassant des sapèques devant la pagode des dames. April 28, 1899-March 2, 1900. #1274. 45:05. "Sapèques" were low-value coins in colonial currency.

65. Escrime au sabre japonais. September 1897. #926. 45:47.

66. Nègres ashantis: danse du sabre I. April 17-May 3, 1897. #441. 46:26.

67. Footit et Chocolate: chaise en bascule. January 1897-September 30, 1900. The catalogue number suggests a date later in that range. #1140. 47:12.

68. La Charcuterie mécanique. January 16-April 18, 1896. #107. 47:54.

69. Patineur grotesque. September 14-November 24, 1896. #117. 48:38.

70. Querrelle de matelassiers. January 1, 1897 to December 11, 1898. Probably closer to the latter date. #948. 49:15.

71. Bonne d'enfants et soldat. Winter 1896-97, by March 7, 1897. #103. 49:57.

72. Le Scieur de bois mélomane. Spring 1897 to June 22, 1898, probably closer to the latter date. #880. 50:37.

73. Accident d'automobile. January 18, 1903 to October 7, 1905. #2021. 51:18.

74. L'Amoureux dans le sac. January 1, 1897 to June 12, 1898, probably closer to the latter date. #885. 52:24.

75. Courses d'ensembles des régates (rameurs assis). January 18, 1900. #1288. 53:11.

76. Bataille de neige. January 31 to February 7, 1897. #101. 53:52.

77. Poits de pétrole à Bakou, vue de pris. Before August 2, 1898 (the date of public showing). Some internet sources give a date of August 6 for this or a similar film. #1035. 54:32.

78. Lancement d'un navire. March 21, 1896. #57. 55:09.

79. Le Village de Namo: panorama pris d'une chaise à porteurs. January 25 to February 14, 1900. #1296. 55:41.

80. Dance serpentine II. January 1, 1897 to June 18, 1899. #765. 56:29.

81. Le Squelette joyeux. January 1, 1897 to March 20 1898, probably in the winter of 1897-98 based on the catalogue number. #831. 57:12.

82. Colleurs d'affiche. September 1897. #677. 57:43.

83. Écriture à l'envers. January 16 to February 9, 1896. #42. 58:27.[/b][/i]
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agantuk

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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostTue Jan 17, 2012 11:38 pm

I have another and alas rather complex query concerning this disk and one of the films on it. Chicago, défilé de policemen. This film appears in the Lumière catalogue along with other films shot in New York and Chicago in September 1896 by Alexandre Promio who made a whistle-stop visit to the USA in that month (he left on the 25th). Hence the date range given above.

Now, there were Chicago police parades at about this period but a contemporary press description of the parade of 1900 describes it as the first of the kind to have ever taken place in the city (it was a sort of dress rehearsal for an even bigger police showing as part of the Dewey Parade in 1901 - filmed by Selig).

CHICAGO POLICE PARADE.; The First Display in This Manner Greatly Pleases Mayor Harrison. (New York Times April 29, 1900)

Even if there had been such a march in 1896 it seems extraordinarily fortuitous that Promio's brief visit to Chicago should have coincided with it. On the disc in question, Tavernier attributes the film to another Lumière cameraman Gabriel Veyre but cites no reference (the likeliest source is Veyre's correspondence) but Veyre was in Mexico in 1896. Thereafter he was in Central America (1897), then Japan (1897-8), then Québec (1898-99), then China (1899), then Vietnam 1899). He might just conceivably however have made a visit to Chicago in 1900 before quitting the Lumières and going to work for the sultan of Morocco (1901). Does anyone know of any Chicago police parade earlier than 1900? Does anyone know why Tavernier attributes the film to Veyre?
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agantuk

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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 19, 2012 10:23 am

I appreciate this is a rather ancient thread and I may never get a response but, en attendant, I offer some other queries and comments on the films concerned.

25 Water Toboggan once can narrow the date range here a bit I think. It was taken by Lavanchy-Clarke (or his operators) at the Geneva Exposition of 1896 which ended in October of that year.

44 Panorama du Grand Canal vu d'un bateau almost certainly shot in October when we know Promio was in Venice (and before other Lumière panoramas which followed in the late autumn and winter), probably in fact ON Oct 25. This means of course that it not the first "travelling" in history as Tavernier claims and is so often stated. The first I know of (by Heise) was in March 1896 at the Niagara Falls but, despite a glowing press report (presumably a "plant"), the films did not come out properly. The first successful travelling I know of was therefore by Mutoscope (probably Dixon and Bitzer) in the Summer-Autumn of 1896 (a panorama from an Atlantic City trolley). Promio would almost certainly have seen this when in the US in September and (despite his own disingenuous account) it is very likely what inspired him to make his film. The panorama became a Promio and a Lumière trademark in 1897 while, even when they fixed cameras to trains, the US companies were more interested in "ghost rides". So a US first but ironically by one of the least talented cameramen of the period (Heise).

51 New York: arrivée d'un train à Battery Place The date above are again on the assumption that this was taken by Promio during his stay but Tavernier for some reason on the disc (again I don't know why and he gives no reference) ascribes it to Félix Mesguich. Mesguich was certainly in the US (from June 1896 till autumn 1897) but he was at this time, contrary to the impression he gives in his memoirs, not much of a cameraman, basically an operator (ie responsible principally for showing the films). Such operators were only occasionally given a chance to make films (film was expensive) and, as far as I know, there is no record of any films being made by Lumière operators until Promio arrived in September (which was why he was sent obviously). But does Tavernier know something about this particular film that I don't know? I would be intrigued to know.
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Derwiddian

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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 19, 2012 9:30 pm

I wouldn't take Tavernier as gospel. There were a number of errors I identified in his narrative, but overall I think he made the subject matter interesting and appealing and can forgive his inaccuracies. In any case, I have no idea where he got his information on cameramen.

As for Chicago, I searched the Tribune database for September 1896 and came up with no parades that were specific to policemen. There was a big Labor Day parade, but for events like that the police were more likely to be controlling crowds and traffic flow than marching. So maybe the date identification is wrong. Also, the title notwithstanding, do we know for sure it was Chicago? My knowledge of the city is rather dim.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 20, 2012 2:11 am

It is not a question of taking Tavernier for gospel but he is President of the Institut Lumière which means he has access to their research information. In the case of the Chicago film (and I don't think the catalogue is likely to have misidentified the town) he not only attributes the film to Veyre, he gives some circumstantial detail about the parade (number of policeman). Whether or not that information is right or wrong (and the number sounds too high), it is coming from somewhere and again suggests he is relying on some source or other. The most probable if so is the correspondence of Veyre which has been published by the Institut Lumière but to which I have no access.

Autour du monde avec le Cinématographe
Correspondance (1896-1900)
De Philippe Jacquier et Marion Pranal

Editeurs : Institut Lumière / Actes Sud
1996 - 289 pages - photographies

Jacques Rittaud-Hutinet claims a Lyon performance of this film on 3 January 1897 but Rittaud-Hutinet is very unreliable and, from the newspaper evidence, it looks very much as though the likeliest date for the film is not 1896 (in spite of its position in the catalogue) but 1900 or 1901 (more probably 1900). The Lumières had given up their operation in the US in 1897 and abandoned their "concessionaire" system, so that their remaining cameramen (Promio, Veyre, Girel) were more or less working as free-lances thereafter, although still being supported by Lumière and returning films to Lyon. After 1900 Lumière operations ceased more or less completely and the cameramen were redeployed (the Lumières were conscientious employers) or found other work for themselves. But it is possible (and, if true, quite interesting) that Veyre made a last trip to the US in Spring 1900......although on the web I can find no mention.
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Derwiddian

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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 20, 2012 9:24 am

Interesting. The Library of Congress has a copy of the Veyre title and it's not too far from here. As I'm interested in this myself, I'll see what I can find out. They are pretty helpful there but of course security is a drag.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 20, 2012 10:14 am

It may of course prove a wild goose-chase and then one would have to assume that 1) Tavernier got in a muddle over his cameramen 2) that he simply invented the details about the march 3) that none of the newspapers reported this police march in 1896 4) that for some reason the mayor of Chicago had forgotten by 1900 that there had been a police march 4 years before (the Times is quoting the mayor about it being "the first display" of the kind).

On the other hand it would seem very strange for films (if Veyre did shoot this one, he may well have shot the other two in Chicago) from 1900 to have infiltrated themselves into such an early place in the catalogue. But here I don't know enoguh about exactly how and when the catalogue was compiled. If we do get an answer to this enigma, it may tell us a good deal about that too. And be a salutary warning about the exhibition-dates given by Jacques Rittaud-Hutinet (again where these are taken from I do not know. publicity material in the possession of the Institut Lumière? Lyon and other local newspapers. Anyone who has looked at such publicity or at newspaper accounts of films knows how easy it is to misidentify films from them).

I live in India so have some difficulty consulting books....
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 20, 2012 11:24 am

Well, I'm a bloody fool. I've looked now at this New York Times article of 1900 more than once and still failed to read it properly. It includes the following "In Michigan Boulevard, near the reviewing stand, was a cinematograph apparatus, which photographed the marchers for reproduction on canvas", The article itself insists: 'This was the first of its kind ever held in Chicago". Now of course that still doesn't show that this was a Lumière operator. But.... The date of the march was 25 April 1900 incidentally.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostSat Jan 21, 2012 6:28 pm

OK, I looked through Veyre's correspondence 1896-1900 and I can't say it definitively resolves whether he was in America in April 1900 but I would have to say it is very unlikely.

Just to give some background, virtually all of his published correspondence was addressed to his mother. He wrote fairly often, usually at least biweekly, and the letters describe where he is and where he intends to go and when, and whether his last leg on his journey was good or bad. If he was really bored he might describe his meals. The letters are not particularly useful describing his professional endeavors: i.e., what he shot and when, though sometimes there are clues. For example, in his January 18, 1900 letter from Saigon he describes the events that day celebrating the arrival of Prince Valdemar of Denmark, including a rowing regatta.

The book was published by the Lumière Institute; it strongly seems to imply there were just two Veyre expeditions for the company. Using the published correspondence, we can plot his whereabouts as follows:

1st trip:
Departs France (Gascony) July 11, 1896. Debarks New York July 19, jumps on train to Mexico via Laredo. If he changed trains in Chicago c. July 20 he doesn't mention it and couldn't have stayed there long in any case. July 25 he is in Mexico City and remains in Mexico until January. January 15, 1897 arrives Havana; stays in Cuba till May. Then he goes south. He was in Colón (now in Panama, but he called it Colombia) June 14, then Caracas, then Martinique August 28. September and October finds him in Colombia, e.g. Cartagena and Bogota, and on October 30 he is back in Colón. He arrives back in France in December.

2nd trip:
July 21, 1898 he leaves London for Liverpool. September 1 and 15 he writes from Montreal. He visits St. Pierre et Miquelon, Niagara, Quebec City, then takes the train to Vancouver where he stayed from October 4 to 10. He embarks for Japan and arrives around October 25 and headquarters in Tokyo until February 1899. He writes from Shanghai March 18, 27, April 3 and 10. Arrives Hong Kong April 23. The rest of the year is spent in Indochina where he moves around a great deal. Hanoi May 26, Hue July 6, Haiphong July 17, Saigon August 24, Hanoi September 6, Phnom Penh (including Angkor Wat) October 20 to November 23, then goes back to Saigon, Haiphong, Saigon, Hue, Saigon again. He finally leaves Indochina February 18, 1900 and arrives (via Suez) at Marseilles March 24. Is met by wife Jeanette and they take the train north on March 26. And there the story ends, except that there is a photo apparently of him operating the cinématographe at the Paris Exhibition on June 9, 1900.

So was there time to get to Chicago for a police parade on April 25, 1900? Well, yes, but it's unlikely. If he took a third trip for the Lumières it went unrecorded, and more to the point, he never wrote his mother from America in 1900. It is also unlikely that chère maman and Jeanette would have stood for another departure of notre Gabriel so soon after a 20-month trip.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostSun Jan 22, 2012 8:08 pm

Good work but a mite disappointing. And the mystery about where Tavernier had his information from remains complete. Unless of course the Institut has later letters or even "undated" letters of Veyre that were not included in the 1996 publication...

One thing is at least clear, if Tavernier is right abut the film being by Veyre, 1900 is virtually the ONLY time he could have gone to Chicago. If he arrived back in France, he could just have been there for April 25 when the parade took place. Of the other two films shot there, one is of the Ferris Wheel but the other is of Michigan Boulevard, which is where the Times says the cinematograph was place for the 1900 parade but then Michigan Boulevard was one of the splendours of Chicago so this doesn't prove much. But he is most unlikely to have gone there in winter 1897-8 (it's not a winter film anyway) as he'd been quite ill in Central America. He could conceivably have gone in August '98, I suppose, before going to Canada but it sems most unlikely and then you'd expect there to be letters along with the others. If he'd fancied a trip in the USA in 1900, I'm not so sure his mum and sister would or could have stopped him. He was off again to live in Morocco in 1901 where he spent most of the rest of his life.

I've sent a mail to the Institut but I'm not convinced they'll reply. I'll see if I can find an address for Tavernier himself, who might.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostMon Jan 23, 2012 11:16 am

Maybe it's my experience in the military that always leads me to general skepticism, but my instinct would be that Tavernier relied on mixed-up work of staffers or else misinterpreted their work.

Veyre went directly to Montreal from Liverpool in 1898, which was the major trans-Atlantic route from Liverpool for at least the next half-century. Ships bound for New York more commonly left from more southerly ports such as Southampton. He doesn't mention US travel in 1898 and Chicago seems a strange destination for somebody exploring Quebec.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostTue Jan 24, 2012 4:49 am

I am equally sceptical. But you forget there are also those circumstantial details about the parade that Tavernier produces. Where do they come from? As also the fact that there is no record as far as we know of any such police parade before 1900. Again unremarkable in itself except for the fact that the newspaper report of 1900 is so insistent that this is the first parade of the kind. By 1900 there were very few cameramen still working for Lumière (or working for him in that capacity) but Veyre remained with him till at least June of that year, when, as you indicate, he gave a showing of his films at the Paris Exposition. He also at some point got married because his wife later joined him in Morocco. Promio however as still with the Lumières at this time but theer is no record his making another trip to the USA.

There is another thing that might have encouraged a visit to Chicago prior to the exhibition at the Paris Exposition. You will remember that the three films taken there are the police parade, a film of Michigan Boulevard and a film of the Ferris Wheel. The Chicago Ferris Wheel was the first (built for the Exposition of 1893) but an even bigger wheel was built for the Paris Exposition of 1900 and was one of the principal attractions there.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostTue Jan 24, 2012 9:47 am

Well, maybe it's time to look at 1896 again. There was a huge Chicago Day Parade on October 10, 1896 with 110,000 marchers to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Great Fire of Chicago. This was a big event with lots of politicians in attendance (it was campaign season). Leading the parade was a "platoon" of policemen (per Decatur Evening Bulletin of that date). The Chicago Tribune of October 8 gives the order of marching organizations, but I'm too cheap to purchase the full article. The Labor Day parade of September 7, 1896 is another possibility. I think it was becoming fairly normal at this time for the police to participate in noncontroversial parades (questionable whether Labor Day qualified in that category in 1896), but I don't know in what numbers.

Incidentally, the Tribune abstract for the April 25, 1900 police "inspection" lists 2,500 marchers.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostWed Jan 25, 2012 10:13 am

Some more thoughts. I haven't found confirmation that there was police participation in the Labor Day parade of 1896, but I've been unwilling to purchase Tribune articles that may or may not shed more light on the matter. It was a big event as Labor Day was the traditional kickoff of the Presidential campaign (that was the quaint custom back then; now they start in the womb) and Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan was using the Chicago event as a springboard for his candidacy. So reporters from all over the country would have been there and perhaps an odd cameraman from France (Promio) as well. And who knows? Maybe the police never awarded parade permits unless they were allowed to march (in addition to any under the table gratuities). This was Chicago after all.

Another possibility is that what we see is a staged event. The shadows are long, the crowds thinner than one would expect for a major parade. Some of the internet commentators have made tentative identification of the background building as a prison way down and out on 26th Ave, well outside (6 km?) the central loop area and not where one would expect a parade to belong. Perhaps this is an impromptu early morning dress rehearsal for Chicago Day, with the timing dictated by Promio's visit specifically so that the police could get themselves on film before he departed town.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 26, 2012 7:44 am

The Lumière were not in the US in May (I assume Labour Day is May); they set up operations in June. Promio arrived in the US in August and left the US on September 25 (hence the end-date usually given for these films) so he could not have been filming in Chicago in October. Félix Mesguich is really the only candidate after that date (he was in the US until autumn 1897). Mesguich though despite his grand claims in his memoirs was relatively inexperienced as a cameraman at this time. He had been in the US since the Lumières opened there in June 1896 but there's no real evidence of any films being made in the US until Promio arrived (for that purpose) in September. Tavernier does credit another film on the disc to Mesguich but again (infuriatingly) does not give any reason for doing so. Mesguich says he was filming a snowball fight in autumn 1896 when stopped by the authorities (probably as part of the xenophobic campaign against the Lumière operation) and also claimed to have filmed Niagara Falls in 1897 before leaving the US but, if Jacques Rittaud-Hutinet is correct, there was an earlier 1896 film of the falls (probably the one we have and probably taken by Promio) but no sign of any later one. So it remains an open question whether Mesguich actually did any filming in the US at all.

I don't think that there is any chance that an event of this kind would or could have been staged (the Lumières did not have that kind of leverage in the US) although it would be very interesting if true since this was "Bryan" territory and American Mutoscope (the most agressive enemy to the Lumière presence in the US) was hand-in-glove with the McKinley campaign (and of course with McKinley "protectionist" policies). But there's no sign in fact that the Lumières understood at all the way things worked in the US and the necessity of building alliances with media, political and commercial interests. This was the principal reason they were unable to compete with Edison and Mutoscope who understood the necessity very well. [it is in my view one of the defining differences between French and US films of these years - and arguably ever since]

I've seen the identification of the building as the Bridewell Prison but I am not convinced. The building could easily have been one of the older ones in Michigan Boulevard. There's a postcard of armistice day there which has a quite similar building in the background.

The New York Times says 2000 so there is broad agreement there. Tavernier's figure as far as I remember was higher (3000?) so this (unless completely made up) is from a different source but could well have been an eye-witness account of the same event.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 26, 2012 9:56 am

Labor Day is always in early September so Promio was definitely in the US at the time. In 1896 it was September 7th.

No, I'm not arguing that Promio had influence with the Chicago Police. Just the opposite. What I am saying is that it is quite possible the police authorities wanted their men to be on film and had the clout to pull it off. If so, it was a matter of Promio having something valuable and the police wanting a small part of it. No politics or alliances necessary, and I'm sure it would have been entirely friendly: "By the way, before you leave tomorrow, could you do this for us?". What's a poor Frenchman to do in that case? Refuse on his honor?

Tavernier gave the figure of 5,000 for the parade.

What you might do is contact the Chicago History Museum to see if you can get a more definitive identification of the building in the background. They they have a large selection of old Chicago photographs and memorabilia, and doubtless a knowledgeable staff.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 26, 2012 12:28 pm

Yes, Promio was in the US by that time. But his priority would have been New York and New England, where the cinematographe was principally showing. Which is not to say they didn't also exhibit in Chicago. They may have. But it is a bit unlikely that Promio made a start there. And, remember, he spent very little time in the US. A trip to Niagara Falls seems not improbable because both Edison and Mutoscope had filmed there (and back in Europe the Lumière operators subsequently busied themselves taking scenes of falls on the Rhine). So Promio would have been very pushed to get to Chicago at all let alone enter into some arrangement with the police chief there to film his marching coppers, which would have taken quite some arranging even if there were only a few hundred of them.

A trip by Mesguich in October (if there was a parade then) seems altogether more probable.

But I am still inclined to think (despite the early catalogue numbers) that the newspapers are correct in their assertions about police parades and that this is actually 25 April 1900, that a Lumière cameraman (whoever) was present in the city primarily to film the Ferris Wheel but took the opportunity also to film the first ever Chicago police parade and that the "cinemotograph apparatus" referred to in the Times article was indeed a cinématographe and not Selig with his Polyscope (although Selig was certainly there for the event the following year). But you are right, it would help to definitely identify the building.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostThu Jan 26, 2012 6:09 pm

Well I have to admit that this discussion has caused me to look at the clip with much greater scrutiny than I ever thought it was worth. It is unfortunate that we don't see more because there are clues that are tantalizingly beyond our fingertips.

1) Is that a streetcar rail in the lower left? If so, this is not Bridewell prison at 26th and California, because there was no streetcar on California, and these marchers are on a north-south road (based on the shadows). 26th is out of the question because it is east-west.

2) What is behind the wagon? We need a few more seconds of film.

3) What monstrosity is casting a giant irregular shadow on the building from across the street? A church? Deciduous trees? If trees, it may argue against April as that early in the season they would probably not be shutting out all light (but check with Chicago naturalists).
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 27, 2012 12:34 am

Meanwhile I am backtracking towards your view. It is not so improbable that Promio was in Chicago in September (and possibly for the Labor Day parade) because there was a Lumière opening in the city on September 14th and it would make perfect sense for Promio (who also came bringing new films) to have attended that opening and shot films while he was there. Even if he arrived AFTER Labor Day, your suggestion of an arranged film would then make sense (because the police would just be redoing for the camera what they had done on the 7th assuming that they did take part in the Labor Day parade and would not have had to arrange it specially). It would still obviously be likely that he would film the Ferris Wheel especially as it had only just been re-erected the year before

I have also thought a little more about that very high figure of 5000 which does suggest that Tavernier (or a researcher) has simply looked up the strength of the Chicago police force. So that would render it meaningless as evidence of anything.

So two possible scenarios (1896 which fits with the catalogue numbering) or 1900 (which fits with the newspaper report). It all hangs on whether the police did or did not march in 1896. I know nothing of US ceremonial. But a delegation that met Bryan in Chicago in August was met by a procession "headed by the police" and Bryan was there again for the Labor Day rally on September 7th where he delivered one of his most important speeches of the campaign.

I agree with you too about the frustration at what we do NOT have in the film. No Police chief Kipling on his horse at the front of the parade for instance or the old "cannon" that they paraded in 1900. And what is behind the wagon? Or indeed in the wagon (Bryan and Mrs Bryan? if it was Labour Day 1896). It has made me think a lot about an area we simply no nothing about as regards these early films. What proportion of films shot were actually usable? How much ended up in the waste-bin? For instance, the cameraman here might have taken four or five films of the parade for all we know and only this one proved worth using. Or he may have tried to take other parts of the parade and simply not been able to get the framing and composition right in time..... We sometimes assume we have the film that the cameraman WANTED to take whereas in fact a lot of the time we may simply (in the case of these "topicalities") have the film he was ABLE to take.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 27, 2012 10:02 am

Anyway, these policemen knew they were on camera and somebody told them to behave formally. Nobody is staring in wonder at the cameraman.

I doubt the Bryans or any politicians would have been in a closed-topped wagon. They wanted to be seen and to wave to the crowds. I thought maybe that this might have been a hearse, with the police escorting a fallen comrade to the grave site. But I don't know if that tradition was around back then and I saw no mention in the Tribune article extracts in September 1896 mentioning such an event. In any case, policemen don't get bumped off every week even in a big city.

An interesting question is why have this event at 6 am or 6 pm, which is about when this shot was taken (if September; this was years before the institution of daylight savings time).

An early morning shot would make sense if the idea was to shoot when traffic was least likely to be disturbed and the police least likely to be needed elsewhere. Perhaps they march one block for the benefit of the camera then disband and go back to work. Alternatively, this could be just the beginning of a miles long parade that would eventually arrive somewhere important at a civilized hour. But, if that is the case, why doesn't the cameraman wake up at his leisure and film the parade in mid-stream? After all, one bunch of marchers should be as cinematic as another.

An evening parade is another matter. I think there were torchlight processions, and to film them a cameraman needed to catch them before sunset. So if the police march first, they are the ones to be filmed. I don't think Chicago's headliner parades were in the evening (so forget Labor Day or Chicago Day), but maybe a lesser one?
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostFri Jan 27, 2012 10:42 pm

I'm going to back off the claim that this is a 6 am (or pm) film, even if we know it is September. Measuring shadow angles on the film is tricky business, and I don't get consistent readings: results seem to vary depending on what type of surface the shadow falls and whether the recipient object is displaced toward the viewer.
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Re: Lumiere Brothers First Films

PostSat Jan 28, 2012 12:42 am

No doubt the police did process for their fallen dead but,as you say, there is no sign of any event of that sort at this time. The Labor Day event seems to have been intended, from Bryan's point of view, as a relatively informal one. He was the "guest" of the labour movement, not a candidate on campaign and the intention was that his speech should be relatively "unpolitical". It took place interestingly in an amusement park (Sharpshooters where Boynton had his "water-chutes"). In fact he used it to unveil one of his most famous political formualue - the splendid phrase about the duty of a politician being to ring the noses of the right hogs. He does not in fact mention any procession of his supporters (headed by the police) on this occasion (as he does in August), just a small "reception comittee". It seems probable, though, that there would have been a substantial police presence (Labor Day had been a bit of a flashpoint in the past) but perhaps a little unlikely that they would have processed so formally.

If it is indeed September, it is however a striking example of the Lumière indifference to US politics. Remember that their principal US rivals at that moment, Mutoscope, were fairly agressively involving themselves in the McKinley campaign and shot a series of highly political films of parades in Canton, Ohio that same year (as well as a film of McKinley himself). McKinley's "protectionist" views had a clear relevance to the cinema and to Mutoscope's attempt to displace the Lumières. Yet here are the Lumières in Chicago at a crucial moment in the Bryan campaign and they produce just a characteristic "view" of marching policeman rather than making any attempt to "report" the Bryan campaign.

They were in part disabled from doing anything very topical by their system, which demanded that all films be returned to Lyon for processing. This meant that a couple of months would pass before they could be returned and shown in the US. Musser states, wrongly I think, that they did not shoot the US films for the US market. Their practice everywhere in the world was to film "local" material which would have a special interest where it was shot (and their practice in the US was no different) but he is right to the extent that they were markedly uninterested in the sensational nature or in the topicality of the films (the example he gives is of a film of Mckinley's presidential address which was not shown until a month or so later).

The Lumière ethic (very much established by the brothers themselves) was in general to shoot the ordinary and the familiar. My preferred decription for such films is "genre films" (in the sense in which one talks of "genre painting" ie the depiction of ordinary, everyday life) and it is, I think, a defining quality that has arguably again characterised European film ever since as compared with US film. Here is quite a neat example where the US film-makers have made topicalities (the "sound money" parade in Canton) where the Lumière operator, in an almost identical situation, has chosen to make a "genre film". One of the reasons of course why it is so difficult to place it in context with any precision.

The Lumières did of course shoot "topicalities" (and were the first to do so) where European politics were concerned. The films of the Coronation of the Tsar and his subsequent visit to France were eminently "political". But Mutoscope learned from the Lumières in this regard very quickly (Edison was much slower on the uptake) and used it very effectively to establish their "Americanness" - films of the US flag were another speciality of the year - and by extension stigmatise the "unAmericanness" of the Lumière repertoire. (Later of course it would be a means of glorifying US expansionism with the coverage of the wars in Cuba and the Philippines).

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