In a historical week that also saw The Bridge Over the River Kwai released in 1957, Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, director Don Siegel and actor Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz) do their first work together on Coogan’s Bluff (1968), and Lars von Trier drive the film festival circuit wild with Breaking the Waves (1996), we have to recognize one of the sole reasons that any of these accomplishments were able to happen. On October 5th, 1864, Louis Lumière was born Besançon, France. Lumiere and his brother Auguste, would grow up to provide perhaps the most significant contribution to film as both an industry, and an art form.
Louis and Auguste Lumiere grew up and inherited their family’s business, which dealt with chemicals and emulsions used for photography. An avid follower of the times and new technology, their father encouraged the boys’ interest in moving pictures, a new phenomenon that had been pushed by individuals as reputable as Thomas Edison but which had yet to make a significant technological breakthrough. With their father’s support, the brothers developed a special hook that could feed film through a camera and in 1895, Louis and Auguste Lumière patented their invention, the Cinematographe.
Over the next 30 years, the Lumiere brothers would continue to develop new technology for film. Louis himself produced hundreds of films in his life, documenting his own day-to-day activities on film and unintentionally creating the world’s first documentary films. He and Auguste would also continue to produce new technologies for film, including large format film, color transparency, and an assortment of camera lenses. Although both men would eventually declare that film was an “invention without a future”, their inventions would go on to inspire future technological advances in film, from the first sound and color pictures, all the way up to the 3D animation seen in Disney/Pixar and Lucasfilm productions.