Vive le cinéma!
This is where it all began, in Lyon. Cinema, that is. Here the Lumiere brothers had home, offices and a factory - the very same factory whose workers were captured in the first ever film recorded. There’s a really fascinating Musée Lumière housed in the former home of the Lumiere family (right next to where the factory used to be also, but that has been since demolished) - lots of old original equipment from the turn of the century (from various techniques ranging from 360 degree panoramas to 3D) together with family photos and memorabilia. I hadn’t realized that the Lumiere company also basically started photojournalism by sending out groups of people all over the world to record the events and everyday life of people in countries from Switzerland to Egypt to Morocco to India etc. What an amazing life it must have been in those days to be able travel the world photographing and cinematographing foreign cultures! And the Lumiere company also were the very first ones to capture color photos. To see turn-of-the-century era in colors seems to bring the time and people to life in almost magical way compared to the b&w we’ve used to be seeing.
Lyon has not forgotten its long heritage with cinema: there’s also a surprisingly good collection of movie props, sets, models, miniatures, animatronics etc from various European and American well-known movies. So Musée des Miniatures et Décors du Cinéma is definitely an imagination-inspiring place to visit for cinephiles such as myself. Again one can only wonder what a wonderful job it must be to design spaceships, bring to life ancient Roman warrior costumes and to explode miniature buses on a daily basis. Somehow seeing those artifacts and thinking about all the people who worked hard for those to make the dreams come alive on screen made me love and appreciate film as a creative form even more….
There was also a large collection of non-cinematic miniature scenes in the same museum, with lots of cutesy and somewhat boring dollhouse-kind-of stuff but also some really striking, artistic miniatures especially from a guy called Dan Ohlman. Stylewise Ohlman’s work was very cinematic even though they had no direct connection to any movies, and many also resembled great still photographs - but were all hand-crafted with painstaking amount of details on top of clearly great artistic vision. I had never before thought of miniatures as an art form, but after seeing Ohlman’s pieces I must update my perspective.