The Brilliant Biograph: Earliest Moving Images of Europe

Restored Version
Europe|1897-1902|B&W, Handcolouring|51 min|DCP|Silent with score|Eng intertitles & Chi subtitles
Eye Filmmuseum digitised and restored the original 68mm materials in its and the British Film Institute’s collections. 4K DCP was then produced.
15.10.2022 (Sat) 16:35 Broadway Cinematheque

Screening with The Making of The Brilliant Biograph and The Bat Whispers

*Online talk by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi (Curator of Silent Film at the Eye Filmmuseum), details and registration


Dir: Unknown

In the early years of cinema, Mutoscope’s US crew travelled to Europe with their newly-invented film and camera equipment to capture the oldest surviving moving images of the continent. Due to film rarity and absence of compatible projectors, most of these film stocks have been either remaining in archives or copied onto 35mm films for projection and digitally transferred, with image quality greatly reduced. Only until recently, advances in film scanning technologies allow audience to experience these images’ full glory. Divided into five chapters containing over fifty one-minute clips, this compilation offers glimpses of life in Europe at the turn of the 19th century like one-minute time capsules from 120 years ago, from natural landscape and rural and urban environments, to people at work and recreation, capturing movement with rich detail demonstrating the major changes brought about by the Second Industrial Revolution.

68mm Film of Mutoscope and Biograph Company

Invented by W. K. L. Dickson and Herman Casler, the Mutoscope is a coin-operated, hand-cranking viewing device using its unique 68mm large-format unperforated film. Typically 850 individual cards with images of photographic prints are attached to a circular core to give a reel of one-minute long. Dickson and Casler later invented the Biograph camera and projector for film in strips with an approximately 1.35:1 aspect ratio. Fed into the mechanism with rubber bands, the images can be projected onto screen. With an image size six times of 35mm film and a 30 frames-per-second filming and projecting rate, the images are sharper and films seem smoother, making it widely used by 1902.

68mm film strip. Courtesy of Eye Filmmuseum