Once we were totally fascinated by the flickering images and that fascination remains strong even today in the era of YouTube, Netflix and Instagram.
Way back in 1895, on the 28th December, the very first public screening of a movie took place. Just 30 people were the audience at the Grand Café on Boulevard des Capucines, Paris , France.
Members of the Press had been invited and failed to turn up! Though within a matter of days it was featured in all the newspapers and by the turn of the year January 2nd 1896 some 2,500 people had paid a 1 Franc each to see Lumiere’s collection of moving images.
Posters advertising the screening were pasted on any convenient wall in Paris. Within just a few months screenings had been held for most heads of state, Kings and Queens and even the Tsar and Tsarina of the Russians.
Last week an original poster advertising the very first film screening sold for £160,000.
Designed by the French artist Henri Brispot to promote the very first film , a series of short clips of everyday 19th century France.
The poster had been held in a private collection for more than 40 years and realised a sale price well exceeding Sotheby’s the auctioneers estimates of £40,000 to £60,000.
In modern times we seem to need more than just flickering images on a wall or screen.
We need drum beats of resounding bass and howling music to move us.
Not just in mono or stereo but in Surround Sound.
There was a time when popcorn and a soft drink was innovative.
Tapas and chips , pizzas and cocktails, finger foods with wines and beers are now the norm in many local cinemas.
Even the seats in modern multiplex cinemas are vast and resemble sofas , though for those of us of a certain age the double seats at the back of the ‘flea pit’ remain unparalleled. With memories to match.
Clearly one collector remains as fascinated with the cinema as ever. The coming season’s cinematic offerings are much anticipated, the reminder that there was a first time is as ever timely.