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L’Arrivée D’un Train En Gare De La Ciotat

L’Arrivée D’un Train En Gare De La Ciotat

By Patrick Samuel • February 4th, 2012
L’ARRIVEE D’UN TRAIN EN GARE DE LA CIOTAT
Kino Video

Release date: December 28th, 1895
Certificate: N/A
Running time: 50 seconds

Directors: Lumière Brothers

The Lumiere Institute, Lyon, France

We’ve seen some pretty crazy things in films haven’t we?

One of my earliest film memories is of Christopher Reeve as Superman, flying. Up until that moment I had never seen anyone fly and watching him in his red and blue outfit with his cape flapping in the wind, it suddenly seemed like a real possibility.

Being only 3 years old at the time, I promptly stood up on my seat in the cinema and tried to fly toward the screen. I got only as far as the seat in front of me and with the commotion that ensued my dad was forced to bring me home. I had again ruined another day out!

The point is, film has a profound effect on us, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. From the suspense of Hitchcock, to the comedy of John Hughes, or the scares of Wes Craven to the magic of Steven Spielberg, they are journeys we embark on and as travellers in the celluloid world, what we experience can sometimes be extremely difficult to separate from the real world. We become so immersed in what Daniel Frampton refers to as the “film mind”, that it takes a few moments before we realise we’re not really there, or that it’s not really here.

L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the short film L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat by Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière, better known as the Lumière Brothers. At only 50 seconds long, this silent film was really quite something back then. Consisting of one continuous real-time shot it shows a train pulled by a steam locomotive entering the French coastal town of La Ciotat.

As the train stops, passengers disembark and those waiting on the platform then board. It’s a short and simple glimpse of everyday life, but L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat’s impact was huge. Screened on December 28th, 1895, it’s one of the earliest films that people paid to see and the Lumière Brothers, who patented the cinematograph in 1895 and had been making and screening films already, must have known what sort of reaction the sight of a moving train in front of an audience would have.

Testing the status of the screen was very much what the first Lumière films were all about. As Kevin Brownlow has observed, what struck the early cinema viewer most of all was ‘head-on’ movement, i.e. movement towards the camera. This movement was conceived as its potential extreme. The first viewers of The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station [but L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, 1895] were not sure where the limits of the space that the train intended to transcend really lay. (1)
SOURCES:

  • (1) Yuri Tsivian, Richard Taylor Early cinema in Russia and its cultural reception (1998) University of Chicago Press

While the legend of first-night audiences running in terror from the approaching train might have been a promotional stunt, there’s no denying that it must have been a sight for them. Like a toddler in the early 80’s seeing a man fly for the first time, the possibility of what’s on screen being something more than that is exactly the magic that film captures.

As time goes by and as we get older, and maybe also because there are only a finite number of stories in the world, it gets harder for film to maintain that magic, but when it does I’m always there, ready to ruin another day out with my suspended belief.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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