Thursday, December 10, 2020

1890s Children in Color: Lumiere Films

Step Back Into 1896

Lumière Brothers films from 1896
An 1890s girl feeds her very large tabby.
I'm a fan of old films that have been restored and colorized using the most modern neural network techniques. Here we have some Lumière Brothers films from 1896 that have been processed so they look as if they were taken with Kodak film from the 1980s.
The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean (you can see why everyone just calls them the Lumière brothers!) made advanced film equipment. To demonstrate it, they made short films between 1895 and 1905.
Lumière Brothers films from 1896
The Lumière brothers filmed ordinary scenes of daily life. They didn't go out looking for train wrecks or anything like that. All they wanted to do was show how this new medium of film could be used. So, they recruited family and friends to make their films. The public quickly became interested, and the Lumière brothers are credited with the first cinema presentation of their work in December 1895.
Lumière Brothers films from 1896
So, what we see here in these 1896 films is not quite the first film the brothers ever made, which would have been in August 1894 (according to the brothers themselves) or March 1895 (according to historians). However, all of this film precedes the birth of Hollywood, which was established around 1911, by 15 years.
Lumière Brothers films from 1896
If you compare these snippets with the very first films, you'll see a great improvement in quality in just a year. The Lumière brothers quickly learned to set up scenes like a modern cinematographer and do close-ups of their subjects. Oh, and in case you're wondering about the films, yes, they are in black-and-white originals. However, a type of color film already was in development when these films were made and the Lumière brothers themselves patented a color photographic process in 1903 and began marketing it in 1907. So, the idea of actual color film from the 1890s is not quite as far-fetched as you might think, though it certainly wouldn't have had the outstanding quality of this sort of processing.
Lumière Brothers films from 1896
I hope you enjoy these brief visits to the past in ways that you might never have thought possible. If you do, consider giving some of these other films a look, too.


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