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"Roundhay Garden Scene": The Earliest Surviving Film (October 14, 1888)


The Roundhay Garden Scene, a short film shot by French inventor Louis Le Prince, is considered the earliest surviving motion picture by the Guiness Book of Records. Le Prince made the film using a single lens camera and Eastman's paper film at 12  frames per second, and runs for 2.11 seconds. According to Le Prince's son, Adolphe, it was filmed at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in RoundhayLeedsWest Riding of Yorkshire, England on October 14, 1888.

The film "features Adolphe Le Prince, Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley and Harriet Hartley in the garden, walking around. Note that Sarah is walking backwards as she turns around, and that Joseph's coat tails are flying as he also is turning. Sarah Whitley was Le Prince's mother-in-law being the mother of John Whitley and Le Prince's wife Elizabeth Whitley LePrince. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was taken" (Wikipedia article on Roundhay Garden Scene, accessed 01-19-2014).

"He [Le Prince] was never able to perform a planned public demonstration in the United States because he mysteriously vanished from a train on 16 September 1890. His body and luggage were never found, but, over a century later, a police archive was found to contain a photograph of a drowned man who could have been him. Not long after this, Thomas Edison tried to take credit for the invention. But Le Prince’s widow and son, Adolphe, were keen to advance his cause as the inventor of cinematography. In 1898 Adolphe appeared as a witness for the defence in a court case brought by Edison against the American Mutoscope Company, claiming that Edison was the first and sole inventor of cinematography (and thus entitled to royalties for the use of the process). He was not allowed to present the two cameras as evidence (and so establish Le Prince’s prior claim as inventor) and eventually the court ruled in favour of Edison; a year later that ruling was overturned" (Wikipedia article on Louis le Prince, accessed 01-19-2014).