Which film had the most satisfying ending

The Lumière brothers invented cinema 125 years ago

Film historians argue to this day. Who "invented" the film? Who the cinema? Was it actually the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière in 1895? Or should the ingenious American inventor Thomas Alva Edison be mentioned at this point? Or the German brothers Max and Emil Skladanowsky? A few other American and British cinema pioneers could also be mentioned at this point.

A matter of definition

The question is whether to use a technical development as the christening date of the cinema or rather the fact that for the first time not just a single person looked into a peep box in which moving images were playing before his eyes. Now it was a group of people who were in a room with a film on the front of a screen: an early form of cinema. But: what is a film anyway? Is it enough to link a few pictures together, which then quickly develop into a film - or should it be game scenes, a dramaturgy behind them?

Visionary technicians and inventors: Auguste and Louis Lumière

If you immerse yourself in the history of the first years of cinematography, you will come across a multitude of inventors and technicians - and of places and laboratories in which development and experimentation, tinkering and testing took place. One thing is certain: At the beginning of the last decade of the 19th century, something was in the air: Photography learned to walk. From the medium of photography, which was not that terribly old, something new emerged: moving images. The whole thing was later called film.

The Lumière brothers are considered to be the inventors of the cinema

In the vast majority of film stories you come across the Lumière brothers when it comes to the beginning of the "seventh art". It has become common practice to call them the inventors of the film, despite all the preparatory work by Edison and Co., despite the parallel or even earlier film screenings, for example in the Berlin winter garden by the Skladanowsky brothers. It is that legendary date of December 28th in 1895: the first public film screening in France took place in the "Grand Café" on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris - even if some experts believe that the honor should be due to other inventors.

An initially barely comprehensible spectacle: early advertising for going to the cinema

The Lumières had asked for admission, a few dozen visitors paid - and saw ten short films that employees of the Lumière companies were showing with a cinematograph: officially the first screening. The French had patented the apparatus, camera and projector at the same time, a few months earlier, on February 13, 1895. Now the visitors to the performance were amazed and stared at the moving images in front of them. They had never seen anything like it before.

Cinema myth: Panic at the first film screening

Today it is no longer possible to clarify exactly whether the later widely rumored story of panic in the face of the film "The Arrival of the Train at La Ciotat Station" actually happened that way. The short strip shows a train entering the train station in the town of La Ciotat, getting bigger and bigger from the viewer's perspective, which seems to roll over visitors. It was said later that they jumped up from their seats excitedly and frightened and left the café in a hurry. They thought the train was actually pulling into the café. The camera perspective had suggested that.

Scene from the famous film with the arriving train in La Ciotat

At least that's the myth. And it's also a beautiful story, of people who witness the implementation of an invention, an invention that has created something that did not exist before. Moving pictures, people and objects that move. Photographs that "live". How should that work? Today, 125 years later, you have to remind yourself of that - which may be best achieved when you consider the first steps of the Internet with all its possibilities.

Today the future of film is being discussed again

Just 125 years later, if you remember the Lumière brothers and their groundbreaking invention, the future of film is hotly debated. Or actually: about the future of cinema. Where will it go? Will it even survive? What happens to the classic feature film? Will it still exist, or will streaming services, the use of laptops and smartphones, ensure that traditional forms of film screenings are overturned?

The first cinemas in Paris were often named after the famous brothers

No one will be able to give a satisfactory answer today. Just guesswork. And they lead back to the beginning of film history. Moving images, whether presented in a magic lantern or other early forms of film machines, were mostly shown at fairs and variety shows. At the beginning, the film was an overwhelming medium, something spectacular and unbelievable, at which people were most of all speechless.

The fathers of cinema: crazy people and hobbyists

The cinema "owes (...) almost nothing to the spirit of science", wrote the influential French film critic André Bazin in his legendary book "What is film?": "His fathers are not scholars." Edison, the Lumière brothers and all the others are "monomaniacs, crazy people, hobbyists or, at best, inventive manufacturers". And there we are again in the here and now.

For the Lumières, the invention of the cinema was only an intermediate step

The cinema will survive, once this thesis has been established. Why? Because people are still thirsting for spectacles, surprises and miracles. And who can best satisfy that? No one else is as good and all-encompassing as the modern trick technicians, special effects magicians and Hollywood writers. Your gigantic blockbuster films, which may not please everyone and it may also have nothing to do with art in the sublime sense, are the heirs of the early film pioneers from Europe and the USA.

They attract millions of people around the world to the movie theaters. There they watch films. Today in color and sometimes in 3D. But they are films projected onto a screen. Hollywood achieved record sales in the billions in 2019. You can then watch almost all films on a smartphone - if you like. But this is another story.