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The First Film

  • Arts and culture
  • Documentary and factual
  • 2015
  • David Wilkinson
  • 110 mins
  • PG

Summary

David Nicholas Wilkinson's documentary charts his quest to prove the world's earliest surviving film was shot in his native Leeds in 1888 by Frenchman Louis Le Prince. The film-maker and archivist Irfan Shan explores the trailblazing techniques and equipment Le Prince employed to realise his groundbreaking achievement and also turn their attention to what happened to Le Prince just two years after his visit to West Yorkshire

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Review

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince is claimed by many to have perfected the first practical movie camera in 1888 - seven years before the Lumiere brothers. This is a meticulously researched investigation into the achievements and mysterious disappearance of Le Prince, who vanished without trace while travelling on the Dijon-Paris express in September 1890. Working with archivist Irfan Shah, director David Nicholas Wilkinson examines the inventor's pioneering techniques and reveals how he refined the 16-lens camera he devised in the United States into the single-lens machine used in Leeds in 1888 to shoot Roundhay Garden Scene, which Wilkinson cogently establishes as the earliest surviving film. Le Prince's widow, Lizzie, suspected foul play when he went missing, but although former policeman Quentin Dowse offers considered speculation on events here, his fate remains unresolved. Famous faces like Tom Courtenay and Joe Eszterhas chip in periodically, but the more useful contributions about Le Prince's apparatus, patents and accomplishments come from the various experts whose insights make this compelling documentary essential for anyone with an interest in screen history.

How to watch

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Credits

Crew

rolename
DirectorDavid Wilkinson

Details

Theatrical distributor
Guerilla Films
Released on
2015-07-03
Languages
English
Formats
Colour
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