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Decade: 1890s
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La Vague 1891

1
Silent
France

This early cinematic experiment was shot by French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey and was recorded on the bay of Naples. It lasts for only a few seconds and is one of the earliest motion pictures ever made.

Pauvre Pierrot 1892

4
Silent
France

Charles-Émile Reynaud was the inventor of the Praxinoscope - a radical development of established animation toys such as the Zoetrope. He was also the first to use film perforations, that made it possible to display a much longer sequence of images. His short animated films visual beauty and novelty makes him an extremely unique and important figure in the history of cinema.

Roundhay Garden Scene 1888

1
Silent
France

This short silent celluloid film is believed to be the oldest surviving motion picture in history, as noted by the Guinness Book of Records. It was shot by French inventor Louise Le Prince on October 14, 1888. The film lasts for less than 2 seconds.

Autour d'une cabine 1894

2
Silent
France

Autour d'une cabine (Around A Cab) was made in 1894 by Émile Reynaud. It consists of 636 images, each one of them individually hand painted. The film was screened using Émile Reynaud invention of the Théâtre Optique, a method similar to modern cinema projectors.

Baby's Dinner 1895

1
Talky
France

A baby is seated at a table between its cheerful parents, Auguste and Marguerite Lumière. While the father is feeding the baby with a spoon, the mother is pouring coffee into her cup. The father gives the baby a biscuit, which the baby grabs, but doesn't eat, although both parents encourage it. The father resumes feeding the baby with the spoon.

Dickson Experimental Sound Film 1894

1
Talky
USA

This Experimental Sound Film is the first film in the history of motion pictures to record picture and sound together. It was made by William K.L. Dickson - Edison's assistant. Dickson tried to combine two existing technologies: the phonograph and the kinetoscope. However, he was unable to synchronise the playback and his early experiment was never released to the public.

L'Arroseur arrosé 1895

1
Silent
France

L'Arroseur arrosé has the distinction of being the earliest known instance of film comedy, as well as the first use of film to portray a fictional story. A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why the water has stopped coming. The boy lifts his foot from the hose, whereby the water squirts up in the gardener's face. The gardener chases the boy, grips his ear, and slaps him in his buttocks. The boy runs away, and the gardener continues his watering.

Le squelette joyeux 1898

1
Silent
France

A skeleton dances joyously, often collapsing into a heap of bones and quickly putting itself back together.

Mr Delaware and the Boxing Kangaroo 1895

1
Silent
Germany

Boxing Kangaroo (German:Das Boxende Känguruh) is an 1895 German short black-and-white silent documentary film, directed and produced by Max Skladanowsky, which features a Kangaroo boxing against a man against a white background at the Circus Busch. The film, which premiered at the first public projection of motion pictures in Germany on November 1, 1895, was filmed on 35 mm film and is 18 feet in length. The "groundbreaking production", was, according to WildFilmHistory, "a huge success", which, ""espite being intended for entertainment rather than as a scientific behaviour study", "revealed animal actions in a way that had never been seen before", and, "exposed the potential for future films concerning wildlife and natural history".

Serpentine Dance 1895

1
Silent
USA

Annabelle Serpentine Dance is a short silent American film produced and distributed by Edison Manufacturing Company in 1895. It is one of several released by the studio the late 19th century. Each short film depicts the popular serpentine dance performed by Annabelle Moore. Many of the prints were distributed in color, which was hand-tinted.

Snowball Fight 1897

1
Silent
France

Wintertime in Lyons. About a dozen people, men and women, are having a snowball fight in the middle of a tree-lined street. The cyclist coming along the road becomes the target of opportunity. He falls off his bicycle. He's not hurt, but he rides back the way he came, as the fight continues. Uh-oh. He forgot his cap in the snow.

Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory 1895

1
Silent
France

Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory in Lyon, also known as Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory and Exiting the Factory, is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. It is often referred to as the first real motion picture ever made, although Louis Le Prince's 1888 Roundhay Garden Scene pre-dated it by seven years.

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station 1896

1
Silent
France

This 50-second silent film shows the entry of a train pulled by a steam locomotive into a train station in the French coastal town of La Ciotat. Like most of the early Lumière films, L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat consists of a single, unedited view illustrating an aspect of everyday life. There is no apparent intentional camera movement, and the film consists of one continuous real-time shot.

The Cabbage Fairy 1896

1
Silent
France

La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) is one of the earliest narrative fiction films ever made. It was probably made before the first Méliès fiction film, but after the Lumière brothers' L'Arroseur Arrosé. The confusion stems from the uncertainty in the dating of these three films. Many film historians have accepted that La Fée aux Choux was made in April 1896, just a month or two before Méliès made his first fiction film. L'Arroseur arrosé (generally considered the earliest fiction film) was screened in December 1895. "The Cabbage Fairy"is the first film directed by a female director. It presents a brief fantasy tale involving a strange fairy who can produce and deliver babies coming out of cabbages. Gently moving through the cabbages and using of lovely gestures, she takes one baby out of there, then makes more magic and delivers two more.

The Photographic Congress Arrives in Lyon 1895

1
Talky
France

Members of the French Photographic Society arrive from a riverboat to their congress venue in Neuville-sur-Saône on a summer day. They go ashore across a wooden landing stage. Among the many men in straw hats are also a few women in long skirts. Some of the men lift their hats toward the photographer when passing. Many of them are carrying their own cameras.

The Vanishing Lady 1896

1
Silent
France

A magician walks onto a stage and brings out his assistant. He spreads a newspaper on the floor (thus demonstrating that no trap door is hidden there) and places a chair on top of it. He has his assistant sit in the chair, and spreads a blanket over her. When he removes the blanket, she has disappeared. He then waves his arms in the air and conjures up a skeleton. He places the blanket over the skeleton and removes it to reveal his assistant, alive and well.