The Lumiere Brothers’ Films

The history of movies in Provence starts early, the region being associated with the beginnings of cinema thanks to brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière who invented the cinématographe.

The Lumiere Brothers' films

The Lumiere Brothers’ Train

It’s with La sortie du personnel des usines Lumière (Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory), filmed in Lyon on March 19th, 1895, that the Lumière brothers stepped for the first time behind a camera. Two months later, they followed  with their first scripted work, Le Jardinier et le Petit Espiègle (The Gardener)  which they remade 3 times, the most popular version being L’Arroseur Arrosé (The Waterer Watered) which incidentally is also the first remake in movie history.

Their most memorable short film is unquestionably, L’arrivée d’un train à la Ciotat (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station  – watch it below) which also happens to be their first production in Provence. Shot in  January 1896 in the beach city where their father had settled, the movie scared lots of spectators watching this train coming their way  (a second version was made, not featuring the Lumière  Brothers’ mother and sister in the cast). As a side note, If you ever get the chance to visit La Ciotat, make sure to check the plate that was placed in the train station to commemorate this event.

Editing together these first shorts, along new ones such as La sortie d’une barque du port de la Ciotat, the Lumière Brothers then created their first feature which was initially presented in La Ciotat before heading to Paris in December 1895 to be shown at the Salon Indien, an old pool hall located under the Grand Café on Boulevard des Capucines – eager to acquire their cinématographe, special effects pioneer Georges Méliès was present at an advance screening. While the premiere was far from being a hit with only 35 spectators, it however quickly gained momentum to reach more than 2,000 daily spectators three weeks later.

back to Provence Movies featureThe brothers – most particularly Louis – kept working in La Ciotat and Marseille, making movies on the family property, in the streets, on ports and in factories. Probably the most noticeable film among these is the amusing La charcuterie mécanique (The mechanical butcher) which shows a live pig being turned into ham and sausage.In February 1896, the brothers had their first screening in Marseille;  a couple months later, they came back to capture Marseille’s life on film with Le marché aux poissonsLa JolietteEmbarquement à bord du paquebot general ChanzyLa Canebière à la sortie de la Bourse. These shorts were then added to the program.


The following two tabs change content below.
Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.