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The pyramids in 1897

by Kate Fortmueller

While Thomas Edison's films often featured U.S. subjects, the Lumière Brothers were invested in filming around the world. While many of Edison's films featured action against a black background, this film has three distinct planes (the movement in the foreground, the Sphinx, and the pyramid in the background). This film, like many of the first Lumière films, also features movement (even though the film is ostensibly about the Egyptian landscape). As Michael Allan points out in his analysis of this film, this movement and the contemporary subjects in the foreground were the primary source of interest for contemporary viewers of this film. The pyramids were a familiar subject of still images, but the camel riders grounded this setting in a contemporary time period and made it more relevant for viewers.

For more analysis on this film, see:

Allan, Michael. "Deserted histories: The Lumière Brothers, the pyramids and early film form."  Early Popular Visual Culture 6.2 (July 2008): 159-170.

Les Pyramides (1897)

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In 1897 the Lumière Bros. sent Alexandre Promio to film various places around the world. He shot 30 films, including this one of the pyramids in Egypt.

from Les Pyramides (1897) (1900)
Creator: Lumière Brothers (shot by Alexandre Promio)
Distributor: Kino Video
Posted by Kate Fortmueller