Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Video: Leaving Work, 1895

Friday, March 15, 2013

Isabella reporting,

After recently posting the early film clip from 1896 of a snowball fight, the creation of the pioneering French film-maker Louis Lumière (1864-1948), I looked for more of his work to share here.

This short silent clip is known as Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (La Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon), and it's exactly that. Using natural daylight, Lumière set his camera across the street from the exit of his family's factory at closing time and recorded the workers – mostly women, though there are a few men in top hats – leaving for the day, plus a single large, inquisitive dog. Lumière filmed the same scene three times, on three different days, which accounts for the varying light as well as other differences like the carriages that come through the gate.

While I love seeing the clothes worn by everyday working women (plus the hats!), this film is famous for another reason. It was one of ten short films shown together to an audience on December 28, 1895 at the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris, making this the first public screening of films with an admission fee charged. Each film ran about 50 seconds, shown through a hand-cranked projector. And, as the old saying goes, the rest is history.


Anonymous said...

What did the factory make? What jobs did the women do?
How far we have come from this early film but what an advancement he made.

JaneGS said...

This is very cool--thanks for posting and for the explanation.

Lucy Hunter said...

I noticed a woman carrying a small child...was there childcare at the Lumiere factory?

Heather said...

Love it! I noticed that almost all of the women wore aprons. I would have assumed that even if the work called for aprons that they would have removed them before going out in "public". Thanks for sharing.


Unknown said...
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jacqueline | the hourglass files said...

Another really excellent video! Thanks for finding it and posting.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Details are a little sketchy about the factory. It stood at 25 rue St. Victor, Montplaisir on the outskirts of Lyon, France. The father, Claude-Antoine Lumiere, ran a "photographic firm" where the brothers were employed. After the father retired in 1892, the brothers began to pursue moving pictures in earnest, not only developing the process, but the technology involved as well.

I'm guessing that these workers were involved somewhere in those projects, though I can't find any more detailed information. The aprons many of the women are wearing might indicate that they work with film processing - or the aprons may simply be a "working woman" wardrobe staple. If anyone else knows more, I hope they'll share! :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was great. Like Heather, I wondered about the women leaving with their aprons still on. Especially when some of them wore both hats and the aprons. It's amazing how identical some of those hats looked.

Thanks again for a good share. I've bookmarked this.

Anonymous said...

I too noticed a woman leaving through the door at about 22 seconds, looking as if she were carrying a small child. Curious about that.
Since the brothers were involved in film does anyone else wonder if this was "staged"?

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Anonymous, I did in fact also wonder if it were staged. I suspect that the workers did actually work for the factory and the brothers, but that there was a time arranged for them to walk through the doorway to be sure that the camera was set and the daylight right. Considering the long workdays of the past, the shadows and sunlight are very bright for it to be a true closing time.

As for the child - perhaps the woman and child had come earlier to meet someone else? Or, considering this was all likely staged, she might just have been swept up to join the others?

Questions that will probably never be answered. Not that this still doesn't make it fascinating to watch. :)

Alena said...

Watching this I can almost go back and feel the excitement someone might have felt watching still photos come to life. When the cart drives out of the gate it is so exciting!

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