la joie de vivre

From California to Lyon, France: living & studying abroad…and coming back!

Pride of Lyon: the Lumière Brothers

Auguste and Louis Lumière (whose last name literally means “light” and is pronounced LOO-me-air) were the some of the earliest filmmakers. They took the moving picture from out of the box (the earlier–and very heavy–invention by Edison, called the Kinetoscope, projected the moving pictures inside of a box) onto a large screen: thus, enabling the moving picture to be popularized.

Their first movie screening had 10 short films (and I mean short, with about a minute long length as the max); one was of a train. The audience was reported to have screamed in sheer fear when the train came towards them! (and not even head on!)

It sounds funny today, especially considering the scale of gore, violence, and death in films today!! But the mechanisms that explain how we separate reality from fiction is unclear, even today.


Lyon is home to the home & museum of the Lumière Brothers (the museum is inside the house!), who are some of the few Lyonnaise celebrities: they’re pioneers in the development of the movie as a form of art and as a form of pleasure.


The museum is easily accessible: get off of the D métro line at “Monplaisir Lumière” and walk down the street! But be careful – everything is in French! You can get an English audio guide, though, for 3 euros (which in my mind would be totally worth it if you can’t read French). I visited the museum last semester and had a good time looking at the old clunkers of models, the first films, and the first moving pictures. It’s strange to think how much our standards have changed — even within my short lifetime what used to be “super cool” (i.e. the pixels and blocks in N64 graphics) are now retro, and now we’re moving into the era of 3D TV and movies.

I thought it was funny that they have a model of their house…inside their house!


I thought it was funny considering Lyon is so big on the brothers but when you think of “light” or “lumière”, you think of Paris. Paris and Lyon have a sort of sibling rivalry going on (a sort of “nah, we’re better” tug-of-war, kinda like LA and NY). The brothers are Lyonnaise and their name is “Lumière” — which has been donned by various streets, a major Lyonnaise university, and our “Festival of Lights”, but Paris has kept the name since it got its reputation of intellectual freedom and curiosity during the Enlightenment.

Picture credits: cinématographe (, poster (


2 comments on “Pride of Lyon: the Lumière Brothers

  1. Kay
    April 7, 2012

    I’m just reading your entire blog today. How interesting! My very favorite film is “The Triplets of Bellville”. Their second, “The Illusionist” was good but a little slow. I really like animation. I wonder if “Hugo” and the invention of moving pictures
    has any truth to it? Anyway your blog is facinating and I intend to try making tartines this very weekend! Your great aunt…………..Kay

  2. alannapeebles
    April 13, 2012

    Aw, thanks for reading! I really appreciate it :) And lemme know if your tartines turned out well!

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2012 by in Things to do & places to Lyon.
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