December 28, 1895 [Le Cinématographe Lumière, continued: La Sortie des usines Lumière]

The first piece is, in a sense, about the Cinématographe itself: We see workers leaving the Lumière factory, mostly women, spilling out en masse and going their separate ways. But some men are scattered about in the crowd, two of them jocular, perhaps even flirting, on bicycles, as well as a horse and carriage—even a dog makes an appearance. It's an interesting beginning, as though we are the next feature. The workers, you see, are done—and what's left behind is the moving picture itself, which we see—not as finished product, but as egress toward us, the commodity they have helped to produce is the thing in which they now appear. And the only relief from this dizzying paradox of viewer, observer, object observed, subject observing (or is that object observing? My head swims), the only respite from sheer intellectual musing is the smiles on their faces, their pleasure at being photographed, the cheerful chaos attendant upon going home at the end of the day.

So yes: Those of us who love this new entertainment are the common folk—so what better first subject than this confluence of makers and audience, both objects independent of the process and subjects of that process—but not lost in a conundrum, simply happy that the camera is there.


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