The Brilliant Biograph: Earliest Moving Images of Europe (1897-1902)

< Program < Cinémathèque française

1897-1902, 52 min, black and white / colors (hand-painted), format 1.33 / music

English intertitles, French subtitles

Netherlands, compilation made in 2020 by Frank Roumen

Musical accompaniment by Daan van den Hurk

Courtesy of EYE Filmmuseum

Now on EYE Film Player!

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A compilation of 68mm films from the Mutoscope-Biograph Collection of the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and British Film Institute (BFI) in London. The rare image quality is a result of W.K.L. Dickson’s invention (with Elias Bernard Koopman and Hermann Casler). A contemporary of the Lumière Bros., Dickson was convinced of the great potential of public motion picture projection, and the need to surpass Edison’s Kinetoscope, designed for monadic viewing only. Join us for this musical tour of the early European motion picture, with cinematographic postcards of Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam and London, and documentary scenes of everyday life, from the waterways to the stage. Artists, workers, children, athletes, Parisian women, everyone poses for the Biograph. With image definition approaching that of IMAX projections, here is Europe of 120 years ago!

I. Daily Life

  • Recreation in Scheveningen, NL 1898
  • Countryside Near Amsterdam, 1898
  • Hungarian Family, 1897
  • Pleasure in Berlin, 1899
  • Public Transport in Amsterdam, 1899
  • Funeral Procession in Rome, 1898
  • Flower Parade in Haarlem, NL 1899
  • Capuchin Monks in Vatican City, 1898
  • The Vegetable Market in Venice, 1898
  • Inventor William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson Feeding Pigeons in Venice, 1898
  • Audience Leaving Circus Carré After the Biograph Show in Amsterdam, 1899
  • From Monte Carlo to Monaco, 1899

II. Riding the Waves

  • Malta, 1901
  • Scheveningen, NL 1898
  • Muiden, NL 1900
  • Southampton, UK 1898
  • The River Zaan, NL 1898
  • Naval Exercise, UK 1899
  • Portsmouth, UK 1899
  • Warships, UK/DE 1900
  • Conway Castle, North Wales, UK 1898 (hand-colored)

III. Greetings from…

  • Paris. Place de la Concorde, 1897
  • Berlin. Altes Museum, Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, 1897 and 1899
  • London, 1899
  • Southampton High Street, 1900
  • Amsterdam. Central Station and Prinsengracht, 1898 and 1899
  • Venice. Grand Canal and Ponte dei Sospiri, 1898
  • Maidenhead junction, UK 1898

IV. Moving Forward

  • Captain Deasy Promoting Martini Cars, Switzerland, 1903
  • Launch of the ‘Oceanic’, the Largest Vessel Ever Floated, Belfast, 1899
  • Iron Foundry Workers, Newcastle, 1899
  • The Marvin Electric Drill, 1898
  • Sir Hiram Maxim Demonstrating His Guns, 1897
  • Advertisement for Rudge-Whitworth Bicycles, 1902
  • Windsor Castle, UK 1899

V. Body in Movement

  • Agoust Family of Jugglers, 1898
  • Upside Down Boxers, 1899
  • Orphan Girls in Amsterdam, 1899
  • French Military School Exercise, 1897
  • Catching the Ferry in Amsterdam, 1899
  • The Island of Marken, NL 1899
  • Roma Camp, 1897
  • The Tarantella, 1898
  • At the Ancient Forum of Pompeii, 1898
  • ‘Les Parisiennes’, 1897 (hand-colored)


In 2000, the Pordenone festival, Le Giornate del cinema muto, featured the first 35mm restorations of Mutoscope and Biograph films edited by Nico de Klerk (historian-archivist at Nederlands Filmmuseum, now EYE). In 2020, digital technology has made it possible to recover these 68mm films (a non-standard format) without any reduction of the image during its restoration: all the exceptional characteristics of this wide format (six to seven times larger than 35mm) have been preserved. The Brilliant Biograph program is a compilation of about 50 films recently restored in 8K by EYE, thanks to funding from the European Commission (European Tribute to Film Heritage), in cooperation with the BFI in London. A 4K DCP with music was produced in 2020 by EYE, to ensure wide distribution of this fantastic repertoire. Special thanks to Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi (EYE).

Check out the Mutoscope-Biograph collection dossier on the EYE website:

Check out the “making of” documentary on the film’s 2020 restoration (including many original 68mm shots):

Check out the three 68mm Mutoscope-Biograph 68mm cameras (1896-1898) of the Will Day Collection preserved at the Cinémathèque française, as well as an exceptional collection of Mutoscope-Biograph flipbooks and wheels, along with a 68mm film viewer:

Will Day Collection (135): One Biograph camera, the second instrument fitted with film punches, and a rolling dog movement with the advantage of daylight loading external spool boxes with spider spools. 1897. There is also a viewfinder fitted with bellows front (Will Day, Illustrated Catalogue of the Will Day Historical Collection of Cinematograph and Moving Picture Equipment, London, 1930, p. 22).

Will Day Collection (136): One Biograph Camera, the third instrument to be produced was also used for taking Mutoscope pictures. Complete with lens and equipment in a leather case for 2 ¼ inch film, 1898 (Will Day, Illustrated Catalogue of the Will Day Historical Collection of Cinematograph and Moving Picture Equipment, London, 1930, p. 22).

Collection Will Day. Modèle très proche de la toute première caméra américaine de la Biograph / A model that is very close to the first American Biograph camera: voir/see Gordon Hendricks, Beginnings of the Biograph, New York, The Beginnings of the American Film, 1964, ill. n° 3.