The First Film (PG) | Close-Up Film Review

The First Film (PG) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. David Wilkinson, UK/France/US, 2015, 110 mins Cast:  David Wilkinson (narrator), contributors include Sir Tom Courtenay, Joe Eszterhas, Ronald Harwood, Adrian Wootton, Tony Pierce-Roberts In the late 1880s the movie industry was born and the race was on in Europe and America to be the first to produce a movie camera and the world’s first film.  When David Wilkinson was a schoolboy in his native Leeds, he was told that this honour belonged to one Louis LePrince, a French inventor, who had married a Leeds girl, Lizzie, and was living and working in that city. When David grew up and became part of the film industry as an actor, producer and distributor however, he discovered that outside of Yorkshire none of his colleagues in the business had ever heard of LePrince. They all believed the received wisdom that the fathers of film were American Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers in Paris. Determined to give LePrince and Leeds the place in history they deserved, Wilkinson set off on the long road to prove his case. The resulting documentary is an interesting and lovingly researched piece of work, with contributions from film historians in the UK and America, fellow Yorkshireman Tom Courtenay, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and many others. The main piece of evidence for LePrince’s claim to fame is a fragment of film of four people in a Leeds garden. Wilkinson makes the case that this was shot before Edison and the others made theirs, making it the world’s first film.  In 1890 LePrince had arranged to go to New York to demonstrate his invention.  Before setting sail though he arranged to visit his brother in Dijon to deal with some family business. He then boarded the train from Dijon toParis and was never seen again. No body was ever...