It's to the famous Lumière brothers, of the Lyonnais, that posterity attributes the paternity ofinvention of cinema. The invention of the camera goes to Thomas Edison, designer of the first device capable of recording and viewing moving images: the kinetoscope. Inspired by the photographic recording process of movement experienced at the end of the 19th century, Auguste and Louis Lumière designed the modern camera and organized the first public screening on December 28, 1895.
The invention of cinema
The cinematograph is based on the illusion of movement due to retinal persistence, proven from Antiquity by Ptolemy and Pliny. Thus in 1832, while studying the laws of vision, the Belgian Joseph Plateau invented the phenakistiscope on which a series of drawings recreated the movement. Its principle was perfected by other researchers, by replacing drawings, first by photographs, then by projected images. The first chronophotography device appeared in 1874, when astronomer Jules Janssen built an impressive revolver part of his photographic plate at regular intervals.
The decisive turning point in these improvements was accomplished in 1888 by Etienne Jules Marey, who took up Janssen's idea but who was the first to use sensitive film. Thomas Edison only perfects the device by applying perforations to the film and scratches to the devices. The use of his kinetoscope is nevertheless limited, as only one spectator can view the images projected inside Edison's box. The Lumière brothers will be the first to "take the images out of the box", according to an injunction from their father Antoine Lumière. They then had the brilliant idea of being inspired by the intermittent movement of the sewing machine to design their device projecting the images on a screen. Final step: the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière go from forty-six to sixteen images per second, improve the claw drive mechanism and patent the light cinematograph in 1895.
From black and white to color
In addition to cinematography, the Lumières brothers are the inventors of a concept: the cinema room. The images are projected on a screen in a dark room and in front of spectators who have paid to attend the screening. The first took place on December 28, 1895 at the Indian Salon of the Grand Café in Paris. The 7th art has found its way to reach an ever-increasing public. Among him a certain Georges Méliès, who will make the heyday of silent cinema (Voyage dans la lune, 1902). We can also cite Léon Gaumont and the Pathé brothers, whose productions will remain attached to the history of French cinema.
Three decisive innovations will guarantee the worldwide success of cinema: color, exploited in 1913 with Gaumontcolor and developed in the 1930s (Technicolor, Kodachrome, Agfacolor, etc.); synchronous sound, inaugurated in 1927 in the Jazz singer; the anamorphosis, developed by Henri Chrétien in the twenties and popularized in 1953 with the CinémaScope. From then on, the cinema becomes an industry in its own right. Powerful American and European studios are flooding cinemas around the world with sometimes very expensive productions: epics and cartoons alongside comedies and auteur films. The arrival of digital technology will shake up the way cinema is consumed, without however replacing the dark room of the Lumière brothers.
- The Lumière brothers: The invention of cinema, by Jacques Rittaud-Hutinet. Flammarion, 1993.
- The fabulous history of inventions - From mastery of fire to immortality. Dunod, 2018.
- The Musée des Frères Lumière in Lyon.