Lumière Brothers, The Beginning of a Revolution

by Gabriel Bernard and Jean-François Gamache,
PhD candidates at Polytechnique School of Montreal

Do you know cinema? What a silly question you would say. Who in the world does not know about cinema? It is one of the most important art forms of our time! All around the world, people gather to movie theatres and watch movies of all types.

All of this is only possible as a result of the hard work and the creativity of two brothers. Inspired by their father, Antoine Lumière, Auguste and Louis Lumière worked with the intention of revolutionizing photography. First, they figured out that it was possible to project an image on a white wall by using a powerful light and a special photographic film. Later, they heard about Eadweard Muybridge who decomposed the movement of a horse by aligning 24 cameras with a trigger mechanism made of cords and making horses run across these cords. By observing the work of this man, they became aware of the possibility of creating the illusion of movement by projecting multiple photography at a rate of at least 15 pictures per second. That is how the idea of building the cinematograph came to life.

The invention was used in 1895 to record and project their first film in front of a public of 200 people at the Société d’encouragement pour l’Industrie nationale, which is a French society that encouraged the national industries. Not long after, their father saw how much interest it would spark to the public and decided to organize the first paid screening of pictures in motion.

The next year, the brothers went on and founded the Lumière company, now known as Ilford Photo, in order to keep control over their new invention. Exclusive usage of the cinematograph in cities all around the world were granted to those who bought the machine’s rights of usage. With the new excitement created by movies, artists from everywhere became eager to put their hands on the brothers’ cinematograph, in order to share the beauties of the earth in animated forms.

Both brothers were not interested in pursuing a career using the cinematograph even if it was their invention. Louis Lumière continued to invent new techniques for the photographic industry and Auguste Lumière decided to invent medical and surgical tools.

These men were true inventors, true creators. They influenced the world for all the generations to come by creating a completely new form of art. And as every form of art, this one, in its turn, inspired the creativity and inventiveness of humanity to this day and will continue for a very long time. In the end, it only took two men and a passion to revolutionize the world!


[1] Guidarini, L. Amazing Art: The Lumiere Brothers, Bluestalking Journal. [Online]

2 Engineers, ed. by John Farndon and Adam Hart-Davis (New York, N.Y: DK Publishing, 2015).