Roundhay Garden Scene / Leeds Bridge

The late 19th Century was an astonishing time for invention – aside from recorded sound we have radio, electric lights, the telephone, the internal combustion engine, electric motors and of course motion pictures.

In Roundhay, Leeds, on 14th October 1888, French inventor Louis Le Prince made the first ever film. It’s less than three seconds long, but compared to the first attempts at sound recording, it’s astonishingly well-developed.

The clip features his son Adolphe Le Prince, his parents-in-Law Sarah and Joseph Whitley and a friend, Annie Hartley. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was filmed. Le Prince also filmed traffic crossing a bridge in Leeds later that year.

Two years later Le Prince went mysteriously missing, and his contributions to film are therefore unclear, especially as Edison went to great efforts (including a court case) to claim the movie camera as his own invention.

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