It’s been more than 20 years since we’ve seen a home video release of the inventors of cinema, Auguste and Louis Lumière. Their catalogue was produced between 1895 and 1905, so what could have changed in the past 20 years? In 2015, the Institut Lumière led an effort to release many of their films through new 4K scans (nearly 4 times the detail of Blu-ray, and 24 times the detail of DVD), now that the technology is more affordable. The fruits of their effort has finally come to Amazon Prime streaming (in 1080p), with English subtitles for the commentary. Simply entitled Lumière!
Compare the above image and video to the older DVD scan below. The 1999 release is available on YouTube and Amazon (The Lumière Brothers’ First Films, Kino Video). Screenshot:
Both releases are arranged similarly, with commentary on the DVD by Bertrand Tervernier and commentary on the new Blu-ray by Thierry Frémaux. Both did production work on the new Blu-ray and are President and General Director (respectively) of the Institut Lumière in Lyons, France. I actually emailed their Press Officer asking about a North American release, with no response. I didn’t have any luck finding contact info for translator Andrew Litvack of Silverway Media (as credited on Amazon), either.
It’s been a challenge finding information in English about the Lumière restoration work. The commentary in the film mentions 108 catalogue items, but all the publicity reports 114 – I have not bothered to count, myself. The 1999 release reportedly has 85 shorts. Both are considered “omnibus” documentaries. I won’t go into any other detailed commentary here, but I was able to find a number of helpful links:
- LUMIÈRE FOREVER – English film historian, Luke McKernan, reviewed the Blu-ray set when it came out. He provides some great commentary on the Lumières and what makes their work so timeless.
- Lumière! Édition Prestige (Region B/2) on Amazon France lists the following special features on disc two:
– Lumière, la naissance du cinéma (30′)
– Aller au cinéma : Louis Lumière (66′)
– Premier film de Jozef Piwkowski (10′)
– L’héritage Lumière par Bertrand Tavernier (8′)
– Lumière, au début et pour toujours par Thierry Frémaux (19′)
– Lumière, le cinéma inventé (2 clips)
– Les nouvelles sorties d’usines (3′)
- Lumière! Le cinématographe 1895-1905 – Google translates this post quite well. It’s in Italian and describes the Blu-ray release as well as the 120th anniversary exhibition at the Institut Lumière, where 1405 of the films are still preserved. Amazingly, only 18 are considered lost.
- Thierry Fremaux on ‘Lumière,’ the World’s First Film, the Artistry of Louis Lumière – January 2017 interview with Variety during the film screening tour.
- Lumière! on IMDb
- Lumière! on AlloCiné – This is like the IMDb of France. Many user reviews.
Alternate search terms: Lumiere! L’aventure commence. Lumiere, le Cinema Invente, Prestige Edition.
Please comment below if you know of any other reviews in English, or info about a Blu-ray release in North America! This is a great candidate for Ultra HD.