Movie Monday: Leisurely Pedestrians 1889
I am going WAY back this time…back to the days of moving pictures and short films. Sticking with my five year increments, one-hundred & thirty years ago, William Friese-Greene, an English inventor, and professional photographer, shot a silent, actuality film in the Autumn of 1889. It was titled Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses.
[…] shot by inventor and film pioneer William Friese-Greene on celluloid film using his ‘machine’ camera, the 20 feet of film […] was shot […] at Apsley Gate, Hyde Park, London. [It] was claimed to be the first motion picture [but] Louis Le Prince successfully shot on glass plate before 18 August 1887 and on paper negative in October 1888. It may, nonetheless, be the first moving picture film on celluloid and the first shot in London.
It is now considered a lost film with no known surviving prints and only one possible still image extant.
An article in This Is Bristol UK from December 17, 2009, (via The Wayback Machine) has an interview with David Friese-Greene, the great-grandson. From the article:
My great-grandfather was an idealist and a brilliant inventor, with 71 patents to his name but, he was a dreadful businessman. He died without ever having made a penny out of his inventions. He married his first wife Helena Friese when he was just 19 and incorporated her surname with his, because he felt it sounded more impressive. Tragically, Helena died at the age of 21 […].
It was during the late 1880s, shortly after Helena’s death, that Friese-Greene first began to experiment with the idea of creating moving pictures. […] in 1890, he patented [a] new device, which he dubbed the chronophotographic camera. Unfortunately, he was so pleased with his creation that, he wrote to the great American inventor, Thomas Edison, telling him what he had come up with and, even, included plans and designs […]. William never heard back from the inventor of the electric light bulb, though, the following year, Edison patented his own version of a movie camera and went down in many history books as the inventor of cinema.
In fact, William died a pauper but, [was] still passionate about his most famous creation. He was at a cinema industry meeting in London, which had been called to discuss the poor state of the British film industry in 1921. He had got to his feet to speak about his vision of how film could be used to create educational documentaries when he fell down dead. It is said he had just 21 pence in his pockets when he died.
In 1951, the movie The Magic Box was released. Starring Robert Donat, it was a biographical piece about Friese-Greene’s life.
There is additional information on this WordPress blog: William Friese-Greene & Me
18 thoughts on “Movie Monday: Leisurely Pedestrians 1889”
May 14, 2019 at 2:58 AM
That’s a great blast from the past.
May 14, 2019 at 2:48 PM
I love history…REAL history. And, this is just another piece I have researched that shows Edison in a poor light…again. He was not a nice man & he was not the great inventor that we’re told he was. He was a jealous man & made Tesla miserable. He may have been crafty but, he was hardly a genius. You have to be a tough bastard to want to film the electrocution of an elephant.
May 16, 2019 at 12:28 AM
I would love to see the film but that will never be found…. that is just sad that he never got to see the fruits of his labor.
May 16, 2019 at 1:19 AM
There are those that claim the film never existed. There is a two second clip with this title on YouTube but, a commenter remarked that it was actually another clip and was mislabeled.
Stuff back then was of very poor quality. Everything was so experimental.
May 16, 2019 at 9:01 AM
Some of those French ones survived but not many…Even major releases from the twenties are gone…a lot of them. That is hard to believe…well it is but isn’t…the film itself broke down in time.
May 16, 2019 at 1:13 PM
During my research, I found a prominent French inventor that is, probably, the Father of Film. I may end up covering him in a later post.
May 16, 2019 at 1:19 PM
That would be great….they came up with some great effects back then
May 17, 2019 at 12:27 AM
There was a lot of interesting things going on back then.
May 16, 2019 at 1:14 PM
I still haven’t gotten over what happened to some of the older Doctor Who material.
May 16, 2019 at 1:22 PM
I know…a few of them had to be pieced together with audio only and pictures
May 17, 2019 at 12:28 AM
They released Shada and 75% of it was cartoon. It was cool, tho…
May 17, 2019 at 12:31 AM
Now you have me wanting to go through youtube and look some of that stuff up….what is the one with the moon?
May 17, 2019 at 1:02 AM
There is more than one moon episode…?
May 17, 2019 at 1:05 AM
Le Voyage dans la Lune
I think that is it
May 17, 2019 at 1:19 AM
Oh, you mean an old silent film, not Doctor Who…
Yeah. Georges Méliès piece. 1902. He was another Frenchman.
May 17, 2019 at 1:22 AM
I think I told you before but an IT guy gave me all the old Doctor Whos….some are just pieced together…
There was also a modern movie about that silent movie.
May 17, 2019 at 1:33 AM
I do recall you saying you had all the Doctor Whos. I don’t recall where they came from. Do you have the Paul McGann TV movie, too?
Didn’t know that. The original silent movie was based on Jules Verne’s writings.
May 17, 2019 at 1:36 AM
Yes I have the movie also…IT people sharre like crazy as you know. Regular shows and bootlegs.
I didn’t know that either.