Best Documentary Movies of 1896

1.

Bassin des Tuileries

2.5
5.3/10 IMDB

Short of the Tuileries.

Directed by: Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière
Release date: 1896-04-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Scene from the Coronation of the Czar of Russia
2.

Scene from the Coronation of the Czar of Russia

2.5
5.7/10 IMDB

100 seconds-long six-scene footage consisting of selected coronation ceremonies of the Russian Tsar (Emperor) Nicholas II. Shows distinguished guests entering a carriage, parade of troops and carriages, Nicholas II and his wife empress Alexandra Feodorovna descending the Kremlin Red Staircase, procession of the newly crowned Emperor and his wife under the baldacchino, guests from the Asian parts of the Russian Empire. (IMDb)

Starring: Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna ..
Directed by: Camille Cerf
Release date: 1896-05-25
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Panorama de l’arrivée à Aix-les-Bains pris du train (temps de neige)
3.

Panorama de l’arrivée à Aix-les-Bains pris du train (temps de neige)

2.4
5.5/10 IMDB

Panoramic film from the Lumiere Catalogue.

Directed by: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière
Release date: 1896-02-07
4.

Black Diamond Express

2.3
5.4/10 IMDB

This picture was taken at one of the curves on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, along the beautiful Susquehanna River. The train is seen rapidly approaching in the distance, clearly outlined against the grey mountains. Smoke can be seen pouring in volumes from the stack of the locomotive, and as the train approaches closely, she sounds a whistle, warning some section men, who are working on the tracks in the foreground. As she rushes by the camera, the swing motion of the train gives a vivid idea of the lightning speed at which she is traveling. (Edison film catalog)

Starring: Benjamin F. Hardesty, Charles Lee ..
Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-12-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Blackfriars Bridge
5.

Blackfriars Bridge

2.3
5.4/10 IMDB

R.W. Paul's early footage showing the new Blackfriars Bridge. It had been opened by Queen Victoria in 1869 for both road and rail, and showcases the distinctive Venetian Gothic ironwork.

Directed by: Robert W. Paul
Release date: 1896-01-01
6.

Sandow

2.3
5.4/10 IMDB

Strong-man Eugene Sandow flexes his muscles and strikes a few poses in front of a black background. This was a short film shot by William K.L. Dickson and produced in Thomas Edison's Black Maria studio.

Starring: Eugen Sandow ..
Directed by: William K.L. Dickson
Release date: 1896-12-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Saut à la couverte
7.

Saut à la couverte

2.2
5.7/10 IMDB

Jumping the Blanket.

Directed by: Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière
Release date: 1896-02-01
8.

Feeding the Doves

2.2
5.0/10 IMDB

A woman and a young girl each carry containers of bird feed, and they toss occasional handfuls to the chickens and doves in the farmyard. Most of the chickens stay nearby, but the doves occasionally fly off and then return to eat more.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-10-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Pompiers : sortie de la pompe
9.

Pompiers : sortie de la pompe

2.2
5.3/10 IMDB

Several fire-carriages, presumably heading to a fire.

Directed by: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière
Release date: 1896-10-25
10.

Barcelone, panorama du port I

2.2
5.4/10 IMDB

The camera sails off, giving us a view of the port from the water.

Release date: 1896-07-05
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : The Melbourne Cup
11.

The Melbourne Cup

2.2
5.1/10 IMDB

This film documents the 1896 Melbourne Cup horse race including footage of the crowd watching the race.

Starring: Henry Walter Barnett, Lord Brassey ..
Directed by: Marius Sestier, Henry Walter Barnett
Release date: 1896-11-23
12.

The Derby

2.2
4.9/10 IMDB

Directed by: Robert W. Paul
Release date: 1896-05-29
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Cock Fight
13.

Cock Fight

2.2
4.5/10 IMDB

Two cocks fight whilst being watched by two men.

Release date: 1896-12-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Alger : déchargement au port
14.

Alger : déchargement au port

2.2
5.1/10 IMDB

Porters bring goods into a warehouse.

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-12-20
15.

A Sea Cave Near Lisbon

2.2
5.0/10 IMDB

The water beats relentlessly against the Hell's Mouth (Boca do Inferno), one of the main natural attractions of Lisbon's west coast, filmed from above almost in a vertical plunge onto the deep, rocky ground.

Directed by: Henry Short
Release date: 1896-10-29
16.

Transport de la cloche de l'indépendance

2.1
4.8/10 IMDB

The parade occupies only a small portion of the screen, the crowds are a seething mass that do really move and the Independence Bell is nowhere to be seen.

Directed by: Gabriel Veyre
Release date: 1896-09-15
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Lion, London Zoological Gardens
17.

Lion, London Zoological Gardens

2.1
5.3/10 IMDB

A male lion, right next to bars that are about 6 or 8 inches apart, keenly watches a uniformed zoo attendant toss small morsels of food into the cage. The lion alternates between finding the food on the cage floor and reaching through the bars to swipe at the man, who stays alarmingly close to the beast. In the background are the large rocks and brick wall at the back of the lion's habitat.

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-08-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Going to the Fire
18.

Going to the Fire

2.1
4.6/10 IMDB

A crowd watches the Newark Fire Department respond to a call.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Mess Call
19.

Mess Call

2.1
5.3/10 IMDB

Members of the New York state militia enjoy some relaxing time during a meal break.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Cortège au mariage de la princesse Maud
20.

Cortège au mariage de la princesse Maud

2.1
4.7/10 IMDB

A large wedding procession.

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-07-28
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Londres, Piccadilly Circus
21.

Londres, Piccadilly Circus

2.1
4.8/10 IMDB

A view of Piccadilly Circus in London.

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-08-23
22.

McKinley at Home, Canton, Ohio

2.0
4.7/10 IMDB

“This view was taken upon Mr. McKinley's lawn at his home in Canton, Ohio. Mr. McKinley appears walking across the lawn in company with his Secretary, who hands him a telegram, which he reads with apparent satisfaction. The characteristic walk and gestures of Mr. McKinley will be noted with interest by his friends.” (AMB Picture Catalogue)

Starring: William McKinley, George B. Cortelyou, Ida McKinley ..
Release date: 1896-09-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : New York, Avenue et Union Square
23.

New York, Avenue et Union Square

2.0
4.8/10 IMDB

Lumiere street scene.

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-09-25
24.

Comic Costume Race

2.0
5.1/10 IMDB

Three athletes make their way to wicker baskets that contain a mishmash of wacky costumes. They need to dress up as quickly as they can, and make their way back on the running track.

Directed by: Robert W. Paul
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : American Falls from Above, American Side
25.

American Falls from Above, American Side

1.9
4.9/10 IMDB

The camera shows a view of the American Falls and Goat Island.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-12-12
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Hyde Park Bicycling Scene
26.

Hyde Park Bicycling Scene

1.9
5.1/10 IMDB

Directed by: Robert W. Paul
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : A Morning Alarm
27.

A Morning Alarm

1.9
4.8/10 IMDB

“This shows the Fire Department leaving headquarters for an early morning fire. The scene is remarkable for its natural effect. The opening of the engine house doors, the prancing of the horses, and even the startled expression upon the faces of the spectators are all clearly depicted.” (Edison Films, 1897)

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-11-27
28.

The Burning Stable

1.9
5.1/10 IMDB

A burning wagon is dragged from the barn by the firemen, and four horses are rescued from the flames by the stablemen. Thick volumes of smoke pour from the doors and windows. (Edison catalog)

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-10-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Edison Drawn by 'World' Artist
29.

Edison Drawn by 'World' Artist

1.9
4.8/10 IMDB

Artist draws Thomas Edison.

Starring: J. Stuart Blackton ..
Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-01-01
30.

Voyage dans un train

1.9
4.2/10 IMDB

A train ride with a view from the back of the train.

Directed by: Charles Pathé
Release date: 1896-11-16
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Mounted Police Charge
31.

Mounted Police Charge

1.8
4.7/10 IMDB

"A battalion of New York's famous mounted police at inspection. They approach at break-neck gallop." - from the Edison Catalog

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-11-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour
32.

Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour

1.8
4.6/10 IMDB

Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour is an 1896 British short black-and-white silent documentary film, directed by Birt Acres, featuring a fleet of fishing smacks leaving the harbour at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK. The "attractive Victorian film," was according to Christian Hayes of BFI Screenonline, "one of the twenty-one subjects presented by Birt Acres to the royal family on 21st July 1896, the day before the marriage of Princess Maud to Prince Charles of Denmark, at one of the very first royal film performances."

Directed by: Birt Acres
Release date: 1896-05-17
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : On Westminster Bridge
33.

On Westminster Bridge

1.7
4.3/10 IMDB

Directed by: Robert W. Paul
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Tunis : Le Bey et son escorte
34.

Tunis : Le Bey et son escorte

1.6
4.3/10 IMDB

Short from (1897)

Directed by: Alexandre Promio
Release date: 1896-12-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Little Egypt
35.

Little Egypt

1.6
4.7/10 IMDB

"A well-known character, in a dance that created considerable excitement when first introduced in America."

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-03-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Jarabe tapatío
36.

Jarabe tapatío

1.5
4.1/10 IMDB

Some Mexicans doing a traditional dance.

Directed by: Gabriel Veyre
Release date: 1896-12-05
37.

Umberto and Margherita of Savoy Strolling Through the Park

1.3
4.5/10 IMDB

The royal family of Italy go for a walk in the park.

Starring: Umberto I, Queen Margherita ..
Directed by: Vittorio Calcina
Release date: 1896-01-01
38.

Ankunft eines Eisenbahnzuges

1.3
4.4/10 IMDB

Arrival of a railway train.

Directed by: Max Skladanowsky
Release date: 1896-01-01
39.

Sunderland

1.2
4.9/10 IMDB

Poor pedestrian, horse drawn carts, wagons and bus travel across bridge at Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.

Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : A Corner of Barnet Fair
40.

A Corner of Barnet Fair

1.2
4.6/10 IMDB

Shows a merry-go-round and some people sitting in a doorway while street traffic goes by.

Directed by: Birt Acres
Release date: 1896-04-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Melbourne
41.

Melbourne

1.2
4.7/10 IMDB

The Lumière capturing moving images of the city of Melbourne, Australia in 1896.

Directed by: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière
Release date: 1896-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Alarm der Feuerwehr
42.

Alarm der Feuerwehr

1.2
3.8/10 IMDB

Fire brigade turnout in Berlin.

Directed by: Max Skladanowsky
Release date: 1896-01-01
43.

Scene on Surf Ave., Coney Island

1.2
4.4/10 IMDB

A short look at Surf Ave., Coney Island.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-05-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Sortie de fabrique
44.

Sortie de fabrique

1.2
5.0/10 IMDB

People leaving the factory.

Release date: 1896-02-19
45.

Empire State Express

1.1
4.8/10 IMDB

The best-known "name" train of its day behind the most famous of all 4-4-0 locomotives, the 999---synonymous with speed in the early years of the century.

Release date: 1896-10-01
46.

McKinley and Hobart Parade at Canton, O.

1.1
4.5/10 IMDB

This is just at the title suggests. it's the McKinley and Hobart Parade at Canton

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-01-01
47.

Arrivée du Tzar à Paris

1.1
4.8/10 IMDB

Tsar Nicholas II arrives in Paris.

Starring: François Félix Faure, Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra ..
Release date: 1896-10-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Sea Beach Scene
48.

Sea Beach Scene

1.0
4.0/10 IMDB

Some men are playing a game on the beach, while some ladies with their backs to the cameras watch. A donkey cart ambles by.

Directed by: James H. White
Release date: 1896-05-31
49.

Baigneurs en Seine à Paris

0.9
3.7/10 IMDB

In a medium long shot, we see a view of the Seine, with some logs floating. Perhaps they are rubbish. Swimmers enter from the right, get as far as the logs and turn back.

Release date: 1896-10-16
Best Documentary Movies of 1896 : Vienna
50.

Vienna

0.0
0.0/10 IMDB

street scenes of Vienna available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBCDQVM5t2w

Directed by: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière
Release date: 1896-07-01

Also check Best documentary movies of 1897.

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