About the Lumière Brothers

Auguste Lumière 1935

Louis Lumière 1935











The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean were among the earliest filmmakers in history. The brothers were born in Besançon, France, in 1862 and 1864, and moved to Lyon in 1870, where both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon. Their father, Claude Antoine Lumière (1840–1911), ran a photographic firm and both brothers worked for him: Louis as a physicist and Auguste as a manager. Louis had made some improvements to the still photograph process, the most notable being the dry-plate process, which was a major step towards moving images.

The brothers began to create moving pictures in 1892. They patented a number of significant processes leading up to their film camera, most notably film perforations as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector.  Their film camera, the Cinématographe was patented in February of 1895 and the first footage was recorded on March 19, 1895. This first film shows workers leaving the Lumière factory.

The Lumière brothers produced many films, and in turn, many screenings in France and elsewhere. The brothers began to open theatres to show their films (which became known as cinemas).  Such screenings generated much discussion and widespread excitement surrounding the new technology. In the first four months of 1896 they had opened Cinématographe theatres in London, Brussels, Belgium and New York.

The Brothers are by no means the only founders of modern cinema, but they are particularly well known for bringing cinema to the masses.  The working class was both the subject of many of the films as well as the intended audience, which helped to provoke a new sort of class-consciousness among the proletariat. BOTL is inspired by the poetics and industrial-age optimism of the Lumière Brothers’ first films of  the 1890’s, which contrasts the darkness and mystery of the later German Expressionist silent film era.