Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory  (1895)

6.9 / 10

A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ...See full summary »

Country France

Genre Documentary, Short

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This Week In Cinema: July 28-August 03, 2013

Bill Thompson | Bill's Movie Emporium | billsmovieemporium.wordpress.com | English

I’d like to think that there’s a big vat of root beer at the earth’s core, that makes me happy!
It’s an all short film type of week this time out,
Thanatopsis (1962, Ed Emshwiller, United States Of America) ***
Death surrounds a man, but he can’t control death. He is forced to sit and watch as Ed Emshwiller plays with sound, editing, and visual effects. The beating heart and the drilling sound create a brooding tension to the film. The quick cuts and the focus on the passivity of the man whose mind we are inside of brings an immediacy to the film. The visual effects morph and twist and create the sort of surreal images that can only come from nightmares. The man in Thanatopsis is stuck in his nightmare, and we’re along for the ride.
The Cat That Hated People (1948, Tex Avery, United States Of America) ***1/2
Another strong entry in the “animated character as plaything of the artist” subgenre of animated shorts. Tex Avery does all kinds of nifty things with Cat. He uses him to explore the zanier side of animated comedy, but he also puts him through the wringer. Cat suffers a lot in The Cat That Hated People, but you know what, it’s a lot of fun watching him get punished. There’s a fun zeal to the madness Mr. Avery unleashes in this short, the sort of fun zeal that is infectious. The Cat That Hated People isn’t Mr. Avery’s best, but it’s pretty darn great and another swell Looney Tunes short.
The Dante Quartet (1987, Stan Brakhage, United States Of America) ***1/2
The more I explore Stan Brakhage’s work the more I appreciate his filmmaking. The Dante Quartet highlights Mr. Brakhage’s ability to combine technical prowess with personal struggle. A series of fleeting paintings superimposed over film reveal a tortured artist trapped in his own kind of hell. He wants his work to be seen, to be explored by others. But, he is trapped in his work and his work in turn is trapped behind a wall. The personal side of The Dante Quartet is appealing, while the technical side of the film is really a joy to ogle over.
The Heart Of The World (2000, Guy Maddin, Canada) ***1/2
My first exposure to Guy Maddin, and what an introduction. I had always thought Mr. Maddin would be very serious, but in The Heart Of The World he’s quite playful. This is a comedy through and through, as well as a wonderful representation of silent cinema. Mr. Maddin takes shots at religion, industry, and the human race in general. None of said shots are mean spirited, rather they are playful in tone and very funny in execution. The Heart Of The World also has a kinetic energy about it, and it was easy for me to get lost in that energy. The Heart Of The World was my first Guy Maddin, but I’m looking forward to seeing more.
Dots (1940, Norman McLaren, Canada) **
Technically strong, and interesting from the technical perspective. The process that Norman McLaren went through to manipulate the film stock to create the dots, scratches, and warbles in the soundtrack is interesting. However, when all is said and done Dots is a series of dots, blobs, and sound scratches with no real discernible reason behind them. Dots is a great exploration of the technical side of film, but as a whole film it is lacking.
Zapruder Film Of Kennedy Assassination (1963, Abraham Zapruder, United States Of America) ***1/2
An extremely short, uh, short film, but a powerful one. Everyone, or I would imagine most Americans at least, know of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Over the years its an event in time that has lost some of its bite thanks to countless conspiracy theories, cheap reenactments, and parodies. Zapruder Film Of Kennedy Assassination is the real deal, footage of an American President being assassinated. Seeing this footage, it’s amazing how raw and visceral the death of President Kennedy was. Removed from all the popular media that has surrounded the event Zapruder Film Of Kennedy Assassination is important, powerful, and visceral in a way that is hard to put into words.
La Sortie Des Usines Lumière (Employees Leaving The Lumière Factory, 1895, Louis Lumière, France) *
There’s not much to be said for a film of a group of people leaving a factory. This is a historically significant film, the first ever film that an audience paid to see, but it has nothing to offer besides its historical significance. It’s under a minute to watch, and anyone who likes film history should watch this, but it’s not a must see film by any other measure.
Schwechater (1958, Peter Kubelka, Austria) *
I appreciate the technique, but this was too abstract for my tastes. This short didn’t offer anything I was interested in, as the rapid editing isn’t my thing and neither were the washed out images. An avant garde film for sure, and one that succeeds in being the type of film it wants to be. That being said, the experiment that is Schewechater left me cold and not enamored with what I watched.
A very short week run time wise, but not a week that was short on great films. Of those great films The Heart Of The World impressed me the most and that’s why it’s taking home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!
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La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière (1895) Movie Review

Richard Cross | 20/20 Movie Reviews | www.2020-movie-reviews.com | English

The next time you hand over your £10.00 to watch the latest big budget movie release, remember that this is where it all began. Without a La sortie des usines Lumière there would have been no movies. It was the first film shown at the first screening in front of a paying public in Paris on 28th December 1895. It holds an important place in the history of cinema — even more important than the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, believe it or not — and provides the perfect starting point from which to explore the history of cinema.
The title roughly translates as Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, and the film shows just that, the employees of the pioneering filmmakers Auguste and Louis Lumiere, pouring through the double gates of their factory in Lyon. It appears that they might have been primed about the camera waiting for them to emerge and instructed not to stare at it, but a few of course are unable to resist sneaking a peek. It’s not much to look at today, although it does of course provide a valuable insight into the clothes worn by the average worker, most of whom, it’s interesting to note, are women, but it must have blown them away on that December night in 1895. In fact, one member of the audience was Georges Melies, who was so impressed he even tried to purchase a camera from the Lumieres that very night, only to be told that it was just a novelty with no future! Fortunately, Melies refused to be discouraged and would go on to claim his own important place in the history of the cinema after producing hundreds of trick-photography movies in the years when the cinema was still finding its feet.
La sortie des usines Lumière is less than a minute long, and despite its static camerawork and mundane subject matter, there’s something endlessly fascinating about it simply because it is such an important piece of history. There are now, in fact, three different versions of the movie — that’s right, the first ever director’s cut! — each of them showing a different group of workers clocking off for the night. Interestingly, the only character amongst a cast of, if not thousands then at least dozens, that appears in all three movies is a curious dog who of course has no idea that his inquisitive nature is earning him a shot at celluloid immortality.
(Reviewed 22nd July 2014)

La sortie des usines Lumière [Leaving the Lumière Factory]

Ion Martea | Culture Wars - Essential Films | www.culturewars.org.uk | English

The Lumière
brothers foresaw no artistic future for film. For them, their 'invention'
was nothing more than a photographic medium, best used for capturing
documentary evidence. Their work was therefore led by this principle,
leaving a significant volume of historical documents of late 19th century
society to posterity. However, despite their contribution to the development
of what must be the most common film genre today (particularly if we
include television news reportage), the Lumière brothers have
consistently failed to score highly when critics are referring to the
greatest directors in history, unless the latter want to add a historical
This is
unfortunate. L'arroseur
arrosé [The Sprinkler Sprinkled] (Louis Lumière/France/1895)
is a veritable attempt at stylising slapstick comedy. Repas
de bébé [Baby's Dinner] (Louis Lumière/France/1895)
is haunted by a quiet tenderness, which creates an inner tune that transcends
the silence of the film. La mer [The Sea] (Louis Lumière/France/1895)
breathes with a vastness and ignorance of time quite specific to European
art-house. The frame composition, the action, the stylised choreography
of movement - all make a Lumière film rise above the concept
of raw documentary images.
A good
example is Leaving the Lumière Factory. At first sight,
the film is nothing but a record of an ordinary procession of a handful
of employees leaving their workplace. The grand gates to the factory
are at first closed, then when opened the workers move in small groups
or independently, on foot, on bicycles or in carriages, directing themselves
towards their homes. Once everyone has left, the gates are closed.
If we
consider the single shot, running at just under one minute, as a spontaneous
snapshot of a social event, then it is quite hard to justify the fact
that there are three versions of the film available. They differ only
by the number of horses used in the shot (ie. none and two, or one in
the originally released version), and in one of them employees fail
to exit the factory in time. It appears quite clear that Louis Lumière
was searching for something else when shooting the scene. The opening
and closing of the factory gates were the two elements that he wanted
to have integrated, representing quite obviously the start and the end
of the film image. The workers' leaving process was therefore destined
to represent the core substance of the work.
In one
word, what Lumière was after was narrative. Leaving the Lumière
Factory is unique in as much as it is the first work that aims at
constructing a story, with a beginning and an end, solely by using the
film image.
The factory
workers are diverse in their mood as well as their social status. The
general atmosphere is complicated. Excitement is mingled with a certain
tired boredom, but also relief. It would be interesting to know to what
degree Lumière directed his actors, and whether he actually desired
a specific mood throughout. Was there a statement about class-consciousness
that he was trying to deliver? On the other hand, did he just want to
stand back and watch, with the aesthetic eye of a filmmaker?
evidence suggests that there was little rehearsing of the scene, at
least regarding the performance of the workers. The relative consistency
of the three alternative versions, however, works against this argument
slightly. However, it is reasonable to assume that his directorial effort
was mainly focused on choreographing the action, rather than directing
the mood of the workers. (The enthusiasm of the boy on the bicycle,
always referred to as the first film star, is unquestionably the spontaneous
reaction of a young man who was simply told to impress, and in consequence
made himself noticeable.)
is aiming for an artistic exploration of the state of society at the
time. By producing a film image that allows us to judge the elements
impartially, Lumière allows himself to explore sociological problems
without the didacticism of academic writing. This mode of presentation
is very different from the trend already established by American directors,
who were concentrating more on individual experiences than on the grander
social setting. The continuous use of extreme long shots in the Lumière
output reflects this curiousity about wider society. Even in the early
stages, these two particular trends seem established on the two sides
of the Atlantic. The Dickson-Lumière dichotomy is not so different
from the contrast between Griffith and Eisenstein, two directors who
chose significantly different tactics for presenting epic social events:
Griffith through individual struggles, Eisenstein through class struggles.
The same applies for Ford-Visconti, or Welles-Fellini.
At the
risk of succumbing to generalisations, we can identify two reasons for
the development of this dichotomy of styles in the primary stages of
the industry. Technology is one of them, as the various cameras used
for filming and projectors used for the presentation of the works, allowed
for distinctive possibilities. In pariticular the Dickson peephole setting,
allowing only one viewer at one time, was not well-suited to presenting
vast landscapes, though it worked for small-scale action. The Lumière
cinema presentation was specifically designed to deal with this difficulty.

A second
argument is usually taken by early European film critics, who happened
to share certain socialist aspirations. For them, film was a modern
form of art that escaped the traditional bourgeois distinction between
high and low art. Thus Lumière's film, specifically presenting
the social status of the (exploited) working class, appears to be a
shout for the latter's pulsating spirit of emancipation. Essentially,
the argument assumes an already established individualist American society,
incapable of common struggles.
of what the correct theory is, it is unquestionable that a discourse
would not have started if the film was without substance. Each of us
can gain something quite meaningful while watching Leaving the Lumière
Factory, be that entertainment, historical evidence, an emotional
engagement with our own lives and social status, nostalgia for times
gone - all of that is taken from the story that lives within the film
image. It is like passing through a special experience through a film
that runs at a distinguishable tempo, changing from slow rhythms, followed
by an allegro pace, seamlessly slowing down to a quiet closing.
is a sense of inner music that possesses most of Lumière brothers'
output, unique in early film history, but later enriched in the work
of Tarkovsky, Fellini, Murnau and a few others. It is deeply saddening
that Louis Lumière, in particular, did not give credit to his
own artistic vision. Admittedly, he was above all a technical pioneer,
yet his style of shooting films, permitting the image of film to shape
its own narrative, is the basis for some of the best works produced
in film history. The cinematic centenary celebration of the Frenchman's
influence on film Lumière
et compagnie [Lumière and Company] (various/France-Denmark-Spain-Sweden/1996),
bringing together forty of the leading film directors working today,
has shown that a single one-minute unbroken shot is just as capable
of presenting a story, with its own depth and charm, as any epic.
the Lumière Factory can be just a simple presentation of
19th century life for a careless viewer. However, Lumière offered
us a work which is engaging for academic scholars of narrative construction,
as well as for social theorists. Ingeniously, the director did not deliver
any clear answer on what is the meaning of his works, yet like an artist
worthy of his name, he left the theory to us.
the Essential Films series.

Tech Specs

Release Date: 22 Mar 1895 (France) See more

Also Known As: AR See more