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Genre: Early Cinema
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296

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.

297

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.

298

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.

299

A Corner in Wheat 1909

14
Silent
USA

A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit.

300

A Trip to the Moon 1902

13
Silent
France

A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. This early, remarkable film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon's surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite.

301

As Seen through a Telescope 1900

1
Silent
UK

An elderly gentleman in a silk hat sits on a stool in front of a store on the main street of town. He has a telescope that he focuses on the ankle of a young woman who is a short distance away. Her husband catches the gent looking. What will the two men now do?

302

Attack on a China Mission 1900

4
Silent
UK

The titles tell us this film is based on an incident in the Boxer Rebellion. A man tries to defend a woman and a large house against Chinese attackers. They attack with swords, guns, and paddles. He's over-matched. What will become of the mission, its defenders, and its occupants?

303

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.

304

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.

305

Dante's Inferno 1911

68
Silent
Italy

Loosely adapted from Dante's Divine Comedy and inspired by the illustrations of Gustav Doré the original silent film has been restored and has a new score by Tangerine Dream.

306

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.

307

Dream of a Rarebit Fiend 1906

7
Silent
USA

Adapted from Winsor McCay's films and comics of the period, this film follows the established theme: the "Rarebit Fiend" gorges himself on rarebit and thus suffers spectacular hallucinatory dreams.

308

Fantasmagorie 1908

2
Silent
France

The first all-animated film in history, a series of scenes without much narrative structure, but morphing into each other.

309

Histoire d'un crime 1901

5
Silent
France

The cell of a man condemned to death. He's sleeping and dreaming about the past that brought him to prison: a frantic pace of living, bad friendships, alcoholism, the murder of a bank-employer. At the end he dreams of climbing up scaffolding, and he suddenly wakes up...

310

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces 1906

3
Silent
USA

Considered the first truly animated movie (or at least the first verifiable, surviving animation), this film is based on the lightning-sketch, a popular vaudeville act. The artist (Blackton) draws a series of faces on a blackboard, which then seem to take on a life of their own.

311

La lanterne magique 1903

3
Silent
France

In this brief "trick film" two clowns assemble an enormous magic lantern which first projects moving images, then emits dancing girls.

312

La Vie du Christ 1906

33
Silent
France

The life of Jesus Christ in 25 scenes.

313

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.

314

Le squelette joyeux 1898

1
Silent
France

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

315

Mary Jane's Mishap 1903

4
Silent
UK

Smith casts his wife as a sluttish housewife who is mutilated by lighting her oven with paraffin.

316

Miniature Theatre 1906

5
Silent
France

Three young children set up a table, and on the table is placed a miniature stage. The stage curtain opens, a carpet appears, and then the carpet unrolls by itself. Two puppet figures then come out and begin to perform a series of routines.

317

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".

318

Rescued by Rover 1905

7
Silent
UK

A dog leads its master to his kidnapped baby.

319

Rescued from an Eagle's Nest 1908

6
Silent
USA

A family is terrified when an eagle carries off its young child.

320

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.

321

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.

322

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.

323

The Assassination of the Duke of Guise 1908

15
Silent
France

Lasting longer than was then usual, about 15 minutes, the film more or less accurately depicts the events of the day in 1588 when King Henry III (played by co-director Le Bargy) summoned his powerful rival, Duke Henri de Guise, to his chambers at the Château de Blois and had him brutally murdered. The film has its share of lurid thrills, and the pacing is quick throughout, with better acting than most films of the time, and staged in a somewhat theatrical manner.

324

The Big Swallow 1901

1
Silent
UK

A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins.

325

The Countryman and the Cinematograph 1901

1
Silent
UK

A satire on the way that audiences unaccustomed to the cinema didn't know how to react to the moving images on a screen - in this film, an unsophisticated (and stereotypical) country yokel is alternately baffled and terrified, in the latter case by the apparent approach of a steam train

326

The Great Train Robbery 1903

11
Silent
USA

Among the earliest existing films in American cinema - notable as the first film that presented a narrative story to tell - it depicts a group of cowboy outlaws who hold up a train and rob the passengers. They are then pursued by a Sheriff's posse. Several scenes have color included - all hand tinted.

327

The Impossible Voyage 1904

24
Silent
France

Using every known means of transportation, several savants from the Geographic Society undertake a journey through the Alps to the Sun which finishes under the sea.

328

The Life and Passion of Christ 1907

44
Silent
France

Life and Passion of the Christ is one of the earliest feature-length narrative films. The film, with sequences made in the stencil color process Pathéchrome, takes a straightforward approach to its subject matter. All scenes are introduced by an inter-title giving the traditional name of the event (the Annunciation, the Nativity, etc.) followed by the actors playing out the familiar stories from the Gospels. Other than the scene titles, there are no other inter-titles.

329

The Living Playing Cards 1904

3
Silent
France

A bearded magician holds up a large playing card and makes it larger. He tears up a card of a queen, burns the torn bits, and a life-size Queen of Hearts card appears; then, it becomes alive. The magician puts her back into the card. The same thing happens with the King of Clubs: the card becomes alive. The king removes his costume, and there's something very familiar about him.

330

The One-Man Band 1900

2
Silent
France

On an empty stage, a magician (Méliès) multiplies himself and his chair to form an instrumental band, which he conducts in a lively piece of music. He then returns to each of his identical copies, and a giant ornamental fan appears behind him. Jumping up, the magician disappears in a puff of smoke before returning to the stage for a final bow.

331

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.

332

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.

333

Uncle Josh's Nightmare 1900

2
Silent
USA

Poor Uncle Josh is trying to get to sleep, but being constantly bedeviled by a fellow in red long underwear with horns. A short early trick editing film using a stationary camera much more valuable for its historical, rather than entertainment value.