The exit of the Lumière factory in Lyon

The Exit of the Lumière factory in Lyon is a French film directed by Louis Lumière , released in 1895 , which exists in at least three recognized versions, and is one of the 10 films shown at the Salon du Grand Café from.

This book, described not without humor by the film historian Georges Sadoul, as “almost a publicity tape ” 1 has long been considered – and still is – by film historians as having been the first film . Also, the commemoration of the Centenary of the Cinema was organized in France in March 1995 . This dating can be found as much in the Larousse Encyclopedia as in the writings of Michel Faucheux 2 , or in the monumental work of the American historian Charles Musser 3 . But other historians give priority to the year 1891, date of the appearance of the first films produced by Thomas Edison , made by his electrical engineer William Kennedy Laurie Dickson . Georges Sadoul notes that “Dickson’s tapes are, strictly speaking, the first films” 4 , and Laurent Mannoni, chief curator of the Cinémathèque française , states that “between 1891 and 1895, Edison made some sixty- ten films » 5 , while Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin do not hesitate to describe the primacy of La Sortie as a chauvinistic lie in most of the film’s stories and recall that the heart of cinema and any audiovisual work is what Edison first named a movie . These authors nonetheless highlight the historical importance of this Exit from the Lumière factory and the fundamental aesthetic contribution of Louis Lumière in the process of creating “animated photographic views” , the word that the Lumière brothers use to designate their impressed reels 6 .


The staff of the Lumière factory comes out of their place of work, first the workers, then the managers. In the first version, the procession ends with the exit of vehicles and the doors are then closed.


The output of the Lumière factory in Lyon is the first film shot with the Cinematograph (registered trademark) of the Lumière brothers , and the first animated photographic view of thehistory of cinema to be projected on the big screen. The films that precede it, as early as 1891, were shot with the kinetograph of Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Laurie Dickson , and are viewed individually with the help of a kinetoscope, a machine that shows moving images, lit from behind, seen through a peephole and a set of magnifying glasses. As for the first animated projections on the big screen, it is – before the Lumière projections – those organized since 1892 by Émile Reynaud within the framework of his Optical Theater , whose luminous Pantomimes – the first cartoons of the cinema – also use a flexible support in gelatin coated with a layer of shellac protection, but do not resort to shooting a photosensitive emulsion , which does not exclude them in the world of the film show, the cartoon being part of cinema 7 .

This animated photographic view lasts 45 seconds and would have been shot on 8 . It shows the output of the staff Lumière , mostly working at 21-23 Rue Saint-Victor (now renamed “First-Film Street”), in the neighborhood Monplaisir , in the 8 th district from Lyon . In this version, it is cold, the characters are in winter clothes, in work clothes.

Technical sheet

  • Title: The exit of the Lumière factory in Lyon
  • Director: Louis Lumière
  • Production: Société Lumière
  • Photography: Louis Lumière
  • Country of origin: France
  • Format: 35 mm double play of 2 round perforations Light by photogram, black and white, mute
  • Duration: 45 seconds
  • Release dates:
    •  France :
      • (first private screening in Paris , at the National Industry Incentive Society)
      • (first public screening in Paris , at the Salon Indien du Grand Café)
      • ( Lyon )
      • ( Marseille )
    •  United Kingdom :( London )

Different versions

There are at least four versions of this film 9 . In fact, the copies of the prints were bad for the original negatives, and we did not yet use internegatives established by means of a contretype, whose definition at that time left something to be desired. To exploit more thoroughly a band, it was necessary to remake a shoot to record a new negative , using the same visual elements.

The Light views catalogs mention only one Factory Outlet , bearing the number 91. Historians Aubert and Seguin identify the four versions as 91.1 to 91.4 9 . According to their research, “no filmic element remains” of the very first version filmed on March 19, 1895, and presented on March 22 in Paris. The four known versions would be reconstructions, the oldest having been shot in May 1895. Thierry Frémaux, in the commentary of the documentary ” Lumière! ” (2015), nevertheless affirms that this version “is undoubtedly the one shot in March 1895”.

Differences between versions

Only in the latest version (the best known) that all characters manage to come out and that the factory closes its doors before the end of the reel of film . However, we note the absence of a horse car in this version, while “those who attended the first session evoked the presence of a car on horseback. ” 10 But what particularly distinguishes the first version of the following two is in the fact that Louis Lumière asked the workers to come back on Sunday after massto turn the second and third version. Thus, unlike the first version where everyone and everyone are in working clothes, in the other two, everyone is in Sunday’s dress (see the photogram above). It is by comparing the three films that this conclusion could be deduced.

The fourth version represents a different location, filming the output of factories overlooking the Rue Saint-Maurice. She was shot in February 1897 9 .


Sunday, March 19, 1995, during the ceremonies of the centenary of Cinématographe in Lyon 11 a remake of the same duration is shot with the same material of time on 35 mm film. It is entitled The output filmmakers, workers and executives Light plants are “interpreted” by directors of the XX th century. The cast includes: Carlos Diegues , André de Toth , Jerry Schatzberg , Mrinal Sen , Youssef Chahine , Bertrand Tavernier , John Rouch , Paul Vecchiali , Jacques Deray , John Lvoff… Twenty years later, Thursday, March 19, 2015, the 120 th anniversary of the shooting of the first film obtained with the Cinematograph Lumière is the opportunity to turn 21 films of 50 seconds each, in the same place, chemin Saint-Victor , renamed rue du Premier-Film.

During the Lumière Festival of Lyon , from 2013 12 , remakes , always of 50 seconds, are made by the invited filmmakers. The first directors are Quentin Tarantino , Jerry Schatzberg and Michael Cimino (in 2013), then Pedro Almodóvar , Xavier Dolan and Paolo Sorrentino (in 2014). The films are played by international film artists.

The first film of Cinématographe Lumière

Louis Lumière and his mechanic Charles Moisson worked almost a year to develop their machine. It was the father, Antoine Lumière , who convinced his sons that they had to temporarily give up their research on dry color plates, as soon as he returned in September 1894 from a stay in Paris 13 , where he was able to admire the public screenings of cartoons of the optical Theater of Émile Reynaud and where he was able to attend, amazed by his own admission, a demonstration of the Kinetoscope of Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Dickson, Which took place a few hundred meters from the Grevin museum where officiated Reynaud 14 . Edison’s envoys had given him about thirty centimeters of the flexible film invented by John Carbutt in 1887 , and marketed in 1888 by the industrialist George Eastman . Armed with all these earlier inventions, Louis Lumière surpassed the American inventors by imagining the clever camera-projection device-printer copies of Lumière. Also warned that the film 35 mmdesigned by Edison with 2 sets of 4 rectangular side perforations per frame, had been the subject of several international patent applications, the Lumière brothers loaded their machine with a film Eastman 35 mm they endowed with a single set of 2 perforations round by photogram, so as not to go into counterfeiting with the invention of their predecessors. The French press baptized the machine of the two brothers, “the Kinétoscope Lumière” 15 .

The truth makes it necessary to specify that important modifications had been made by the future serial manufacturer of the cinematograph, the Parisian engineer Jules Carpentier , in particular as regards the intermittent training of the film because it seems that Louis Lumière, after having had the idea of claws , finally built his prototype with a mechanism with intermittent claws (the clip moves the film image by image by squeezing it on the edges, then releases it to go pinch it higher while being impressed a photogram , and move it once again, ad libitum). A rustic process that will transform Carpentier by adapting the idea of ​​the claws of Louis Lumière to his prototype. Another improvement: the entire mechanism was set in motion by a set of outer pulleys, which Carpentier replaces with a set of toothed sprockets installed inside the case itself.

Carpentier’s fundamental contribution to the prototype of Louis Lumière has been proven by historians and researchers: “The Cinematograph, operational between March and October 1895, probably corresponds to the instrument that was deposited at the CNAM in 1942 by Louis Lumière, whose design is closer to the patent itself than to its additions. ” 9 . But posterity will remember that it is the only Lumière brothers who are at the origin of their “Cinématographe”. The industrial world is as follows: the result of work that an employee or agent provides his employer or principal, belongs ultimately to the client, so the industrial 16 . That’s how William Kennedy Laurie Dicksonwas the real developer of the machines devised by his boss, the inventor and industrialist Thomas Edison , the kinetograph and the kinetoscope, but that the benefits, both moral and financial, generated by his work, belonged entirely to the society of ‘Edison 17 .

Related article: History of cinema .

Louis Lumière himself activated the crank of his camera, during his first shooting intended to be shown in public (it had been of course preceded by many tests) 13 . That’s why his staff is eager to go out and do not linger, except for one boy and one dog, at least in one version. The boss seemed to be watching them with this new machine, and the Light was not known to be an easy employer. Working conditions were extremely tough at home and they gladly put strong heads at the gate 18 . It is to pay homage to their father Antoine that the two brothers asked him during the famous first session of thein Paris, at the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe , to turn the Crank Cinematograph to which they had added a strong lantern to ensure the projection of the film on a white sheet with modest dimensions.

Hangar of the first film

Main article: Hangar of the first film .

The natural setting of this film, of which only the part called “Hangar of the First Film” remains, is currently used as a lobby of a cinema by the Institut Lumière 19 . It is registered with historical monuments by a decree of the, then ranked on the occasion of the celebrations entitled ” centenary of cinema ” in 1995 , as location of the first film of Louis Lumière.

Polemics on “first film” and “cinema centenary»

These formulations “first film” and “centenary of cinema” are sources of controversy. Georges Sadoul , film historian, says that “the tapes filmed by Dickson are strictly speaking the first film 20 . ”

At the time of the first screenings of the Cinematographe Lumière, the Edison Kinetoscope had already enjoyed a great success since 1893 with the popular public who crowded the Kinetoscope Parlors by paying a fee of a quarter of a dollar. The press, invited to the first Lumière screenings, reports not on the Cinématographe, it will come later, but on the “Kinétoscope (or Kinétographe) of the Lumière 21 brothers ” . On March 22, 1895 , Louis Lumière, when presenting his invention to the scientists of the Society of Encouragement, named it “Projection Kinetoscope 15 ” .”It is very difficult to determine precisely the moment from which the Lumière brothers began to work on the projection of animated images, their recollections on this point being contradictory. On the other hand, the Edison Kinetoscope is always cited as a starting point for their reflections aimed at making visible images by a public, and no longer individually, so it was not until September 1894 that they were able, or their father Antoine, see this new attraction in Paris 21 . “Edison’s Kinetoscope only allowed viewing of the films by one viewer at a time, standing in a relatively uncomfortable position, but his show was indeed movies, the hallmark of cinema. Certainly, the Cinematograph proves to be a considerable improvement and a formidable competition. However, the date of 1995 , chosen to celebrate the centenary of the invention of cinema, is questionable because only a bundle of inventions could contribute to the emergence of this process. It can not, however, be denied that it is the centenary of the invention of the device called the Cinematograph 22 , and that it celebrates the first projections of “animated photographic views” on the big screen.

This brilliant beginning lasts only a year and a half, as Georges Sadoul recalls: “The contributions of Louis Lumière and its operators are considerable. But Lumiere’s realism, which remains to a certain extent mechanical, denies the cinema its principal artistic means. After eighteen months, the crowds leave the Cinematograph. The formula, purely demonstrative, lively photographs a minute during which the art was limited to the choice of subject, framing and lighting, led the film in a deadlock 23 . ”

The Lumière brothers thought that the cinema was a fire of straw that would be quickly extinguished, as Louis Lumiere’s grandson Maurice Trarieux-Lumière admits: “My grandfather told me that he believed that the Cinematograph would tire the vision of the spectators. It was like an attraction that would have passed. He does not live, it is true, like Leon Gaumont or Charles Pathé , the rise that cinema would take 14 . ” Furthermore, one of the most famous traders who ran around the world to bring photographic views animated the company Light, Felix Mesguich says in his memoirs that when hired, Louis Lumière had warned against all overflow of enthusiasm:”I do not offer you a job of the future, but rather a work of fairground. It will last a year or two, maybe more, maybe less. The cinema has no commercial future 24 . ” But in 1964 , in the book devoted to Georges Sadoul Louis Lumière memory, the film historian reports that his interlocutor disputes with energy authorship of a prediction too short-sighted, and ready for his father Anthony, death for a long time 25 .

The race for the machines was over, the Lumière brothers had undoubtedly won, and The Exit of the Lumière factory in Lyon is a milestone in the invention of cinema , as was Dickson Greeting ( The Salvation of Dickson ), but it was still necessary to invent the cinema as a technique of narration and language. This was the case, not of industrialists, but of artists and craftsmen, like the French Émile Reynaud, Georges Méliès , and the British of the Brighton School , George Albert Smith , James Williamson , and finally the American DW Griffith 26 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Georges Sadoul , history of world cinema from its origins to today , Paris, Flammarion ,, 719 p. p.  19.
  2. ↑ Michel Faucheux, Auguste and Louis Lumière , Paris, Gallimard , coll.  “Folio Biographies”,, 288 p. ( ISBN  978-2-07043-938-6 ).
  3. ↑ ( in ) Charles Musser, History of the American Cinema , Vol.  1: The Emergence of Cinema, The American Screen to 1907 ,, 613 p. ( ISBN 0-684-18413-3 ).
  4. ↑ Sadoul 1968 , p.  16.
  5. ↑ Laurent Mannoni, ” Glossary ,” Liberation , o 4306 (supplement)p.  3 (special issue celebrating March 22, 1895, French year of the invention of cinema).
  6. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588 p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  11 to 17.
  7. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  21 to 23.
  8. ↑ Jean-Pierre Dufreigne ” It was March 19, 1895, at noon … ” L’Express, ( read online  [ archive ] ).
  9. ↑ a , b , c and d Michelle Aubert ( dir. ), Jean-Claude Seguin ( eds. ), Anne Gautier and Jean-Marc Lamotte, The Cinematographic Production of the Lumière Brothers , Paris, CNC and Bifi , coll.  “Memories of the cinema”, ( ISBN 2-9509-048-1-5 ) , p.  17.
  10. ↑ Frémaux, Thierry (Director). (). Light!  [Movie]. Lyon: Light Institute.
  11. ↑ ” March 19, 1995: Centennial cinema organized by the Institut Lumière in Lyon, photographs Anik Couble ”  [ archive ] (accessed st May 2015 )
  12. ↑ Aurelian Ferenczi, ” I shot under the direction of Xavier Dolan and Pedro Almodovar “, Télérama , ( read online  [ archive ] ).
  13. ↑ a and b | Heritage Light | The Cinematograph
  14. ↑ a and b Maurice Trarieux-Light (interview with the grand-son of Louis Lumière, president of the Association Frères Lumière), the Letter of the first century of cinema o 7, Association First century of cinema, Supplement to the Letter information from the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie o 380, of December 3, 1994 ( ISSN  1244-9539 ) .
  15. ↑ a and b Edward Waintrop , ” March 22, 1895: the first meeting ,” Liberation , o 4306 (supplement)p.  1 (special issue celebrating March 22, 1895, French year of the invention of cinema).
  16. ↑  [ archive ] . Accessed the 24/06/2017.
  17. ↑  [ archive ]
  18. ↑ Edward Waintrop ” Animated Images of Mr. Louis Lumière ” Liberation , o 4306 (supplement)p.  2 (special issue celebrating March 22, 1895, French year of the invention of cinema).
  19. ↑ The Hangar Prime-Film  [ archive ] , the Light Institute’s website
  20. ↑ Sadoul 1968 , p.  16.
  21. ↑ a and b Heritage Light, The Cinematograph  [ archive ]
  22. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  11.
  23. ↑ Sadoul 1986 , p.  24.
  24. ↑ Felix Mesguich, crank turns, memories of a hunter of images , Bernard Grasset, Paris, 1933. Amazon Standard idenfification Number (ASIN) B0000DY4JG.
  25. ↑ Georges Sadoul , Louis Lumière , Paris, Seghers, coll.  “Cinema today”,.
  26. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin, Performer, the “Great” history to fiction , Paris, New World Publishing,, 436 p. ( ISBN 978-2-36583-837-5 ) , p.  292-294.

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