September 14th, 1888 – The Oldest Movie


Roundhay Garden Scene is a short silent film directed by French inventor Louis Le Prince on October 14th, 1888It was recorded at 12 frames per second and runs for 2.11 seconds. It is the oldest surviving film in existence, noted by the Guinness Book of Records.

Roundhay Garden Scene

According to Le Prince’s son, Adolphe, the film was made at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire. It 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 his wife, Elizabeth. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was taken.

In 1930 the National Science Museum (NSM), London, produced photographic copies of remaining parts from the 1888 filmstrip. This sequence was recorded on an 1885 Eastman Kodak paper base photographic film through Le Prince’s single-lens combi camera-projector. Le Prince’s son, Adolphe, stated that the Roundhay Garden movie was shot at 12 frames/s (and the second movie, Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge, at 20 frames/s), however the later digital remastered version of Roundhay Garden produced by the National Media Museum, Bradford, comprises 52 frames and is only 2.11 seconds long, as the film runs at 24.64 frames/s, the modern cinematographic frame-rate. The National Science Museum copy has 20 frames; at 12 frames/s, this would produce a run time of 1.66 seconds.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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