I am always amazed at how photography and film changed the world by capturing definitively life from another era with details that will impress generations to come when they study history.
I found it fascinating to watch a 50-second film shot back in 1895, by Auguste and Louis Lumieres that has been restored to a 4K digital quality that made the definition of the action incredibly focused, so much so, that I felt like I was amongst those about to board the train. The film is entitled, “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat.” It has the distinction of being the very first movie shot and reportedly the train movements frightened the screening audience convinced that the locomotive would come off the screen and hit someone.
We might find humor in that reaction but in retrospect, I’m sure those that come long after us will find the public’s reaction to the clock turning from one millennium to another known as Y-2K somewhat comical, as we worried about a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000 at the turn of the Millenium.
For me, I love to look at the faces in that film or frankly any photography from years past, especially the still photography of Matthew Brady who captured the ravages of war and the mood of those engaged in America’s Civil War struggle. As I watch the “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat,” I am mesmerized by the eyes and facial visages of those in that revolutionary film that proved beyond a doubt that capturing the motion of life was possible and a significant upgrade from a photo that was stagnant even if interesting. And I hate to admit this but while I’m watching both young and old in that film, I realize that all those souls have crossed the rainbow divide. Life being anything but immortal I know that every face I see whether it’s in a Matthew Brady moment in time or the motion picture film production of the Lumieres are no longer among the living even if they appear that way in 4K digital. That makes me in some ways appreciate more what it is that I’m looking at….life captured in full detail that only photography can produce as much as I love the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci and Monet who provided likenesses such as the Mona Lisa or the “Woman with a Parasol” that are definitive but in my mind ethereal. You never get that impression with a photo or a film that is a bonafide presentation of actual human beings living their lives in their time.
The “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat,” could easily be dismissed by today’s public considering the strides that film production has amassed during the last 125 years, making it literally possible for a filmmaker to dream any scenario they might fantasize while telling a story. But when you do that you fail to recognize what pioneers needed to do to break barriers and innovate.
I will provide a link at the bottom of this blog should you want to check out the mastery of taking old celluloid and transforming it via AI – (artificial intelligence) into a 4K digital format that in itself is quite an accomplishment. The AI not only recreated the splendor of the film as if it were shot yesterday but also added sound to a film that was silent at the time of its release.
Kudos to the Lumieres and the tech geniuses who GO DO GOOD and make cinema a premier art form that now makes it possible for us to feel as if we’re right there in that moment of time that for the living is history.
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