Best Documentary Movies of 1896
Bassin des Tuileries
Short of the Tuileries.
Scene from the Coronation of the Czar of Russia
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)
Panorama de l’arrivée à Aix-les-Bains pris du train (temps de neige)
Panoramic film from the Lumiere Catalogue.
Black Diamond Express
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)
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.
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.
Saut à la couverte
Jumping the Blanket.
Feeding the Doves
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.
Pompiers : sortie de la pompe
Several fire-carriages, presumably heading to a fire.
Barcelone, panorama du port I
The camera sails off, giving us a view of the port from the water.
Two cocks fight whilst being watched by two men.
Alger : déchargement au port
Porters bring goods into a warehouse.
A Sea Cave Near Lisbon
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.
Transport de la cloche de l'indépendance
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.
Lion, London Zoological Gardens
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.
Going to the Fire
A crowd watches the Newark Fire Department respond to a call.
Members of the New York state militia enjoy some relaxing time during a meal break.
Cortège au mariage de la princesse Maud
A large wedding procession.
Londres, Piccadilly Circus
A view of Piccadilly Circus in London.
McKinley at Home, Canton, Ohio
“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)
New York, Avenue et Union Square
Lumiere street scene.
Comic Costume Race
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.
American Falls from Above, American Side
The camera shows a view of the American Falls and Goat Island.
Hyde Park Bicycling Scene
A Morning Alarm
“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)
The Melbourne Cup
This film documents the 1896 Melbourne Cup horse race including footage of the crowd watching the race.
The Burning Stable
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)
Edison Drawn by 'World' Artist
Artist draws Thomas Edison.
Voyage dans un train
A train ride with a view from the back of the train.
Mounted Police Charge
"A battalion of New York's famous mounted police at inspection. They approach at break-neck gallop." - from the Edison Catalog
Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour
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."
On Westminster Bridge
Tunis : Le Bey et son escorte
Short from (1897)
"A well-known character, in a dance that created considerable excitement when first introduced in America."
Some Mexicans doing a traditional dance.
Umberto and Margherita of Savoy Strolling Through the Park
The royal family of Italy go for a walk in the park.
Ankunft eines Eisenbahnzuges
Arrival of a railway train.
A Corner of Barnet Fair
Shows a merry-go-round and some people sitting in a doorway while street traffic goes by.
The Lumière capturing moving images of the city of Melbourne, Australia in 1896.
Alarm der Feuerwehr
Fire brigade turnout in Berlin.
Scene on Surf Ave., Coney Island
A short look at Surf Ave., Coney Island.
Sortie de fabrique
People leaving the factory.
Empire State Express
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.
Arrivée du Tzar à Paris
Tsar Nicholas II arrives in Paris.
Baigneurs en Seine à Paris
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.
Sea Beach Scene
Some men are playing a game on the beach, while some ladies with their backs to the cameras watch. A donkey cart ambles by.
street scenes of Vienna available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBCDQVM5t2w
Arrival of a Train (Joinville Station)
One of a few versions of the "arrival of the train" narrative. While the film is lost, there is a new digital version based on re-creation from a flipbook produced by Léon Beaulieu around the same time. Shot in Joinville-le-Pont
The Morning Alarm