the invention of movies

First Movie Poster – 1896

Toronto. In North America, we usually think of Thomas Edison when considering that aspect of history. In Europe, credit is usually given to the Lumière brothers of France (of Autochrome fame).

Actual work on motion predates photography when mechanical devices were designed to show motion. The first use of photography to study motion is attributed to Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer.

Today, we seldom think about the impact of movies on society given the internet, smartphone videos, and television. However, the grammar of movies was created last century based on the even earlier grammar of live plays. As motion pictures evolved, their  grammar has infused television. Movies rapidly ate up plays, books, short stories and ideas as weekly fodder to generate the material demanded by theatre audiences.

The illustration above is the very first known movie poster (1896) created for a presentation that almost no one attended. Today, thanks to institutions like Ted Turner’s Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the rich production of California’s Hollywood last century can be viewed and assessed for its realism vis-a-vis the source material and modern day television serials.

My thanks to good friend George Dunbar for sharing this piece of photographic history with me.

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