Pristine Footage Lets You Revisit Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Brothers

Pio­neer­ing film­mak­ers Auguste and Louis Lumière, the inven­tors of the pro­ject­ed motion pic­ture, held their first pri­vate screen­ing in Paris in March of 1895. The streets of the French cap­i­tal would go on to pro­vide the broth­ers with plen­ty of life in motion for their new tech­nol­o­gy to cap­ture in the years there­after, and you can watch eight such real scenes com­piled in the video above. With its star­tling clar­i­ty — and its more recent­ly cor­rect­ed motion and added sound — this selec­tion of pieces of Lumière footage offers a rich six-minute cin­e­mat­ic time-trav­el expe­ri­ence to the City of Light between the years of 1896 and 1900.

Guy Jones, the uploader of the video on Youtube, pro­vides the fol­low­ing guide to the loca­tions:

0:08 — Notre-Dame Cathe­dral (1896)

0:58 — Alma Bridge (1900)

1:37 — Avenue des Champs-Élysées (1899)

2:33 — Place de la Con­corde (1897)

3:24 — Pass­ing of a fire brigade (1897)

3:58 — Tui­leries Gar­den (1896)

4:48 — Mov­ing walk­way at the Paris Expo­si­tion (1900)

5:24 — The Eif­fel Tow­er from the Rives de la Seine à Paris (1897)

These places have con­tin­ued to pro­vide gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers with loca­tions for their urban cin­e­mat­ic visions. (The Eif­fel Tow­er now pro­vides an imme­di­ate visu­al short­hand for the city, though it cer­tain­ly would­n’t have in this Lumière footage, when it was less than ten years old.) That goes for French film­mak­ers as well as those of many oth­er nation­al­i­ties: even the Coen Broth­ers used Tui­leries Gar­den for their short film Tui­leries, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture.

Or at least they used the sub­way sta­tion under­neath Tui­leries Gar­den, which would­n’t open until 1900, the same year as the Paris Métro itself — and the year of the Paris Expo­si­tion, also known as the Expo­si­tion Uni­verselle, which gave Parisians the chance to ride the mov­ing side­walk seen in the sec­ond-to-last Lumière seg­ment.

Any­one famil­iar with the Paris of the 21st cen­tu­ry will be quick to observe the dif­fer­ences between the city now and the city 120 years ago. But a Parisian of the 1890s might well have said they were the ones who lived in a city made unrec­og­niz­able to ear­li­er gen­er­a­tions, giv­en Georges-Eugène Hauss­man­n’s com­plete revi­sion of the cen­tral city com­mis­sioned by Napoléon III and car­ried out between 1853 and 1870. For good or for ill, it’s just as much Hauss­man­n’s Paris today as it was Hauss­man­n’s Paris in the 1890s, and crit­i­cisms that the city has remained frozen in time aren’t with­out mer­it. But to see what has most dra­mat­i­cal­ly changed about mod­ern Paris — that is, what has changed about how peo­ple see and inter­act with mod­ern Paris — we must turn to cin­e­ma. Might I sug­gest the work of Éric Rohmer?

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Beau­ti­ful, Col­or Pho­tographs of Paris Tak­en 100 Years Ago—at the Begin­ning of World War I & the End of La Belle Époque

Immac­u­late­ly Restored Film Lets You Revis­it Life in New York City in 1911

The Old­est Known Footage of Lon­don (1890–1920) Fea­tures the City’s Great Land­marks

Time Trav­el Back to Tokyo After World War II, and See the City in Remark­ably High-Qual­i­ty 1940s Video

Berlin Street Scenes Beau­ti­ful­ly Caught on Film (1900–1914)

Dra­mat­ic Footage of San Fran­cis­co Right Before & After the Mas­sive­ly Dev­as­tat­ing Earth­quake of 1906

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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