History of Movies


  • Director: James Williamson
  • Year: 1901
  • Runtime: 5m
  • Available on YouTube

I am pleased to report that the first film to link together multiple shots into a narrative is an action-packed stunt spectacular set on the South coast of England.

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Panorama of Eiffel Tower

  • Director: James H. White
  • Year: 1900
  • Runtime: 1m
  • Available on YouTube

Come for the world’s first camera tilt, stay for the delightful characters at the end.

Let Me Dream Again

  • Director: George Albert Smith
  • Starring: Tom Green, Laura Bayley
  • Year: 1900
  • Runtime: 1m
  • Available on YouTube

A poor wretch of a man wakes from a dream about partying with a pretty younger woman to find, in a hi-larious twist, that his arms are around his older, dowdier wife who wants nothing to do with his affections.

How his wife hates him so! Ha ha ha!

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Solar Eclipse

  • Director: Nevil Maskelyne
  • Year: 1900
  • Runtime: 2m
  • Available on BFI Player

This film is believed to be the first surviving astronomical film in the world. Magician and astronomy enthusiast Nevil Maskelyne had to design and build a special adaptor for his camera in order to capture this solar eclipse, an event that has fascinated us for all of human existence.

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Cyrano de Bergerac

  • Director: Clément Maurice
  • Year: 1900
  • Runtime: 2m
  • Available on Wikimedia

This short is a scene taken from Rostand’s play and featuring the celebrated lead actor, Benoit Constant Coquelin, from the Paris production.

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La Lune à un mètre

(The Astronomer’s Dream; The Man in the Moon)

  • Director: Georges Méliès
  • Year: 1898
  • Runtime: 3m
  • Available on Archive.org

This movie is absurd in the best possible way.

It features satan, goddesses, child clowns, an evil moon, slapstick, puppetry, and practical effects.

I love it.

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Boat Leaving the Port

Shot using the Cinematograph of his own invention, this one scene short film features intrepid sailors watched over by the relatives of Lumière as they row boldly out to the seas.

The excitement ramps up in the second act as the sailors pass beyond the jetty only to find themselves immediately hit by the angry sea. We wonder how they will handle this sudden eruption of nature’s fury.

Then, in the final seconds of the film, we see the boat desperately trying to turn back to shore while being pummelled by some of the biggest waves ever captured on film that year.

Then it suddenly ends, the fate of the sailors left to the imagination.

With this abrupt ending, the film asks us to contemplate what it means to take on more than we can handle.

Fun Fact!

The Lumière brothers were the first to have a paid public screening of a projected film, basically inventing The Cinema, but then they later decided that movies weren’t going anywhere and so they quit making them.

See more from my study of The History of Cinema.