The brothers who inspired Georges Méliès to become a filmmaker and are seen as the revolutionary people on the technical aspect of film, but who were they?
Once upon a time, there were two brothers, Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière, who would grow up to achieve great things. Respectively they were born in 1862 and 1864 both in Besançon, a city in France. They were the sons of the well-known painter Antoine Lumière. The two of them were also very smart, which shows in their revolutionary invention that they will make, and they both excelled in the science subjects at school.
They were raised in Lyon where their father had built up a factory that was specialized in photographic equipment, because he gave up his hobby as a painter. Louis and Auguste both also worked at their father’s factory, Louis as physicist and Auguste as manager.
Louis was often seen as the “smarter” brother of the two, because of some good reasons, one of them is that he was the one experimenting with film and discovering things, like a new dry plate process, when he was just 17. It got the name “etiquette bleue” . This gave a welcomed boost to the factory of Antoine Lumière. They made a ton of those plates in the upcoming years.
A couple of years after the invention of the “etiquette bleue”, Antoine was invited to see the kinetoscope invented by Thomas Edison. After he saw it, he came home enthusiastically and started to encourage his son to do the same thing. To create a similar machine to the kinetoscope to sell, because the ones of Thomas Edison were expensive, and still sold fast, so if they made something similar, which was cheaper, they’d make a lot of profit.
When developing this machine, they also studied of course their source material and they came to two conclusions, the thing had to become more compact, and it should be so that more people at once could see the film. They managed to overcome these problems and invented the cinematographe in 1895. This thing could both film and project a film and it also utilized less filmstrip than the kinetoscope, because the cinematographe filmed at 18 frames per second and the kinetoscope at 48. The cinmatographe was also way lighter than its predecessor; it only weighed around 5 kilograms. This contraption was also inspired by the sewing machine, unlike the kinetoscope of Edison.
The first paid film screening ever was held by them on the 28 of December 1895 for an audience of around 10 people of which Georges Méliès says he was one. With that show they also went on to make a successful tour around the world. 1895 marks also the year that the brother’s father died, before which he went back to be a painter.
The invention of the cinematographe is the main the brothers are known for, but they also have made numerous films. The both have together created around 100 films, which nearly all are documentary-style films. Their film called L’Arroseur arose would supposedly be the first comedy. The film is not even a minute long and in it we can see a gardener watering his plants with a garden hose, when a kid comes up and blocks the water, where after he lets the water go again, and lets it spray in the face of the gardener.
The brothers died with six years apart: Auguste died on April 10th 1954 and his brother Louis died on June 6th, 1948. They were the ones you could call “fathers” of cinema. Without them film would’ve been something completely different.