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The First Film Review

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A documentary charting the origins of cinema back to Louis Le Prince, a French inventor who filmed family and friends larking around in Leeds in October 1888.

★★★★★

A passion project seven years in the making, David Nicholas Wilkinson’s filmed essay counters the received wisdom that the Lumière Brothers, Thomas Edison or Willliam Friese-Greene made the first film. Instead, Wilkinson posits that cinema began with Louis Le Prince, a French inventor who shot family and friends larking around in Leeds in October 1888. The first half of the film deals with Le Prince’s race to become the first filmmaker while the second, more engaging section looks at his mysterious death. Occasionally the storytelling feels bogged down and the filmmaking lacks verve, but this is a sincere, fascinating look at the birth of cinema.

A sincere, fascinating look at the birth of cinema.

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