What's the Oldest Film? Watch it Here!

The World's Oldest film
Credit: The Roundhay Garden Scene
The Roundhay Garden Scene is the world's oldest film. 

When we talked about the first movie camera ever, we included a short blurb on the world's oldest film, so I wanted to spend some time highlighting it today.

But before we jump into it, I want to clarify something.

There had been still images shot and then cut together before then, like the Passage de Venus (whose date is indeterminable but is estimated at 1874). While it's cool on its own, I think of it more like a scientific experiment in the vein of Eadweard Muybridge's The Horse in Motion, the series of cabinet cards he captured for Leland Standford.

See, that was more like a timelapse. For me, I wanted to find something that was 1.) created with the intention of capturing a moment as it played out in real-time, and 2.) shot on film.  

So, what was the earliest thing shot on celluloid? 

Well, we answered that earlier. The earliest celluloid film was shot by Louise Le Prince using the Le Prince single-lens camera made in 1888. It was taken in the garden of the Whitley family house in Oakwood Grange Road, Roundhay, a suburb of Leeds, Yorkshire, Great Britain, possibly on October 14, 1888.

So we just passed the anniversary! 

It was titled The Roundhay Garden Scene and it features Adolphe Le Prince (Le Prince's son), Mrs. Sarah Whitley, (Le Prince's mother-in-law), Joseph Whitley, and Miss Harriet Hartley. I'm not sure if we should classify them as actors. I think maybe we'd call this a short doc by today's standards.  

Recently, there was an excellent restoration done to upscale the footage. I am not an editor, but I was really impressed with the work done here by Denis Shiryaev. The original The Roundhay Garden Scene was shot at only 12 frames a second. 

So in restoring it, he had to scan each image into the frame and add stabilization. 

Then there were some brightness issues that he worked on with color correction. But in the end, what turned out was a really wondrous restoration that I think looks really great for being over 100 years old. 

So, that's the first movie ever made. Who knows where the next 100 years of cinema will take us!

Got a prediction? Let me know what you think in the comments.     

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1 Comment

Let's get your terminology straight. The are MOVIES shot on film, not videos. Hmmm....

November 9, 2020 at 9:27AM, Edited November 9, 9:27AM

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Lee Albright
Owner-Albright Films
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