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  • 1896

The Cinématographe: M Trewey Appears

Caricature by Alfred Bryan from Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (28 November 1896): 491.

Although a few films were tentatively projected in 1895, it was in 1896 that cinema really “arrived” in the world in a big way. Many of the first films were both shot with and exhibited on the Lumière Cinématographe, so it seems appropriate to begin this collection with an image of one of the pioneers of the Cinématographe, Félicien Trewey (1848–1920). Trewey was a celebrated French magician and entertainer who brought the Lumières’ invention to Britain in February 1896; the remarkable device then played in London’s Empire Theatre from the following month. Trewey appeared in several films made by his good friend Louis Lumière, including Chapeaux à Transformations [Hat Transformations] (1895), which is probably the role depicted in this caricature. Because of these screen performances, Trewey has some claim to being one of the world’s first “film stars”. The man who drew this image, Alfred Bryan (1852–1899), was a well-known caricaturist and illustrator whose work appeared in some of the leading British illustrated journals in the late nineteenth century, including Judy, Moonshine, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and the En’tracte Almanack.

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[End Page 371]

The Living Pictures – The Skeleton

Poem by Mark Oute from British Journal of Photography [supplement] (4 December 1896): 93.

Mark Oute was the pen-name of George Mason (1839?–1901), a well-known contributor to photographic journals in the late nineteenth century.1 His poem celebrates the Cinématographe and other moving picture devices that appeared in Britain in 1896, as well as the new X-rays, which had been discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen emanating from a Crookes electrical discharge tube (referred to in the poem). From the mid-1890s, X-ray machines were publicly displayed as marvels, able to reveal the skeleton within the living body, while nearby at the fair or in the music hall, that other wonder, the cinematograph, was also enthralling the public.

Such a bustle and a hurry O’er the “living picture” craze, Rivals rushing, full of worry In these advertising days.

Each the first, and each the only Each the others wildly chaff All of them proclaiming boldly There’s the first A-kind-o-graph,

But it is a wonder really How the constant flood of life O’er the screen keeps moving freely, Full of action – stir and strife.

There the waves are wildly breaking There the swimmer stems the tide. The cyclist his record making, With countless varied scenes beside.

‘Tis far from perfect in its movements, ‘Tis very hard upon the eyes; The jolty wobble no improvements, Smooth running films a surprise.

Still successful beyond reason, Spite of all its erring ways, Holding first place in the season Is the “Living picture craze.”

We pass the out-door show and come To the “Interior Views” we’d say – X-ray exposures – held by some The greatest wonder of the day.

In this the Crookes’ tube plays its part, Producing pictures – gruesome things – Skeleton hand and beating heart Bony fingers adorned with rings.

The products are not pleasant; still They’ve proved the means of great advance New powers, before unknown, that will The scientist’s results enhance

The “Cinemato” runs along, Giving pleasure by its pace, The X rays’ function being strong To benefit the human race.

Each plays its part in the season, Each fills a niche of its own. To place them together’s no treason, For side by side have they grown. [End Page 372]

In the Dark

Anonymous short story from Pick-Me-Up (16 May 1896): 109–110.

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The risqué and stylish British magazine Pick-Me-Up took an early interest in the cinema, publishing a review and two cartoons on the subject in April 1896, and then this story in May.2 The story has an element of authenticity about it, for it takes place in London’s Empire Theatre, the music hall where Trewey’s film shows ran from...


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pp. 371-375
Launched on MUSE
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