What was the first movie ever made? There are a number of contenders, though photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge’s “The Horse in Motion,” made in 1878, is often designated as the first. It was a series of stereoscopic images of a galloping horse.
Muybridge gave many demonstrations of his primitive motion pictures, and at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, in 1893, he lectured on the “Science of Animal Locomotion” in the Zoopraxographical Hall, built specially for that purpose. He used his zoopraxiscope, which was an early type of movie projector, to show his movies to a paying public, making the Hall the first commercial movie theater.
The earliest film with a narrative was “The Roundhay Garden Scene,” made in 1888 by inventor Louis Le Prince. It’s 2.1 seconds long!
But scientists think that they may have found much older “moving pictures,” in caves in France and Spain. In some of these caves, sequences of animals have been drawn by ancient man, and when torch light flickers over them, the animals seem to move. These cave paintings are 30,000 years old! The claims about these “paleolithic animated pictures” are controversial, but do check out the video to see what you think!
To learn more about Eadweard Muybridge, read River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit.
To see more of the earliest movies ever made, check out More Treasures From the American Film Archives 1894-1931, which showcases a collection of 50 early films.