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The Arrival of a Train (1896)

L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (original title)
A train arrives at La Ciotat station.


Credited cast:
Madeleine Koehler Madeleine Koehler ... Self
Marcel Koehler Marcel Koehler ... Self
Mrs. Auguste Lumiere ... Self
Jeanne-Joséphine Lumière Jeanne-Joséphine Lumière ... Self
Rose Lumière ... Self
Suzanne Lumière Suzanne Lumière ... Self
Learn more

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A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, the line dissolves. The doors of the railway-cars open, and people on the platform help passengers to get off. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


The screening of this film on December 28, 1895, is one of the earliest known instances of a paying audience coming together to see a film. However, there had already been screenings of other films that year, such as Young Griffo v. Battling Charles Barnett (1895) in May and a medley of several shorts in Berlin in November (see Das boxende Känguruh (1895). See more »


Referenced in Le grand Méliès (1952) See more »

User Reviews

Remarkable; unforgettable; the definitive image of 1890s cinema
13 June 2007 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

There doesn't seem to be anything particularly exciting about an approaching steam locomotive, but somehow this image has stuck, the first iconic scene in cinematic history. Produced by pioneering French filmmakers Auguste and Louis Lumière, 'L' Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat / Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat' was filmed at La Ciotat, Bouches-du-Rhône, France on December 28, 1895 and first screened to a paying audience on January 6, 1896. The 50-second long film, like most other Lumière shorts, successfully captures a brief snippet of everyday life, chronicling the gradual approach of the train, its slow to a halt, and the disembarkment of its passengers.

For many years, there has been an enduring myth than, upon the first screening of the film, the audience was so overwhelmed by the image of the train bearing down upon them that they fled the room in terror. This has been shown to be something of an embellishment, and, though the film would undoubtedly have astounded and mesmerised audiences, there was never any real mass panic. French scientist Henri de Parville, who attended an early screening, is said to have written: "The animated photographs are small marvels. ...All is incredibly real. What a power of illusion! ...The streetcars, the carriages are moving towards the audience. A carriage was galloping in our direction. One of my neighbors was so much captivated that she sprung to her feet... and waited until the car disappeared before she sat down again." This, I think, adequately sums up how remarkable the film must have seemed back in 1896.

Auguste and Louis Lumière obviously recognised the power of illusion offered by their Cinématographe. In order to maximise the shock value of the approaching train, they have mounted the camera as close as possible to the edge of the platform, so that the audience feels as if they are almost standing right in the locomotive's path. The people departing from the train are just normal citizens going about their day (several Lumière relatives, however, can be spied on the platform), enhancing the realism of the short. Cinema does not get much more memorable than this.

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Release Date:

25 January 1896 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Arrival of a Train See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lumière See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.31 : 1
See full technical specs »

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