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The Cinématographe

On the left and in the center, the machine is shown in open and closed positions. On the right, it's ready for operation. The larger component is a magic-lantern lamphouse being used as a light source. Electricity could be used to power the light source, but if it was unavailable, limelight or an ether lamp would also work. Among some historians (as one of them puts it), “the period of film’s prehistory includes the development of all the precursors of the cinématographe.” This position—which implies that the true history of the cinema begins with the cinématographe—is, perhaps, an overstatement, but in the hands of Louis Lumière, this machine did more than any other to embody the combination of technological, aesthetic, and commercial possibilities that eventually came together to give birth to the “cinema.”

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