The Man Who Disappeared After Making The World’s First Movie

The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to film or cinema is Edison’s invention of the camera or the Lumiere Brothers’ first commercial cinema screening. However, there is such a person who has a very important place in the history of cinema. We are here with the interesting disappearance story of Louis Le Prince, who took motion pictures for the first time in the world.

In September 1890, Louis Le Prince, a former chemist and draftsman, set out for Paris. However, after this journey was never heard from again. Why did this man who did something big for the cinema world just two years before this event suddenly disappear?

Le Prince’s debts of this situation, the famous inventor Jealousy of Thomas Edison and Prince’s debt dispute with his brother is thought to have many reasons. Let’s take a closer look at both the moving photos taken by Le Prince and the conspiracy theories of his sudden disappearance.

Louis Le Prince was born in France in 1841.

Louis Le Prince (Right) and Family

His father was an artillery major in the French army who had been awarded the Order of Honor. Le Prince was inspired by family friend Louis Daguerre, who taught him photography when he was little. in the photo studio would pass the time. Art in Paris when the gifted Le Prince was a young man and studied chemistry in Leipzig, Germany. Different fields of study played an important role in his work in the following years.

He moved to England in 1866 to work for his friend John Whitley, who founded a brass foundry.

Le Prince (Left) John Whitley (Right)

Le Prince soon established a school for the “applied arts” and made everyday objects both functional and beautiful. On metal and pottery photo shoot attempts they started doing it, which brought them some fame.

In 1881, Le Prince went to the United States as a representative of Whitley Partners, the company he worked for.


He became the director of a group of artists specializing in panoramas exhibited around the country. Around this time, he began to explore the idea of ​​”moving” photographs. Le Prince’s first experiment, at least With a large 16-lens camera concluded. Taking tons of photos of moving objects from slightly different angles, this camera captured some sort of motion, but the images were quite shaky.

Returning to England in 1887, Le Prince designed a simpler single-lens camera in a workshop in Leeds.

camera inside outside

He used paper negatives inside the camera, which resembled a short wooden box, and 12 to 20 frames per second photographed. On October 14, 1888, he visited the Whitleys’ home, Oakwood Grange, and shot his first movie with the new camera. It was a simple image of her son Adolphe, Joseph and Sarah Whitley, and her friend Annie Hartley walking in circles in their garden. which is only a few seconds long, It was the world’s first “on-film” motion picture.

Satisfied with his new camera, Le Prince is looking forward to taking longer and better quality shots in the future. projector started working on it. His family later claimed that he successfully moved still images in his workshop. Unfortunately, no one ever saw the results of their hard work.

In 1890, Le Prince decided to return to the United States. Because he wanted to show the people what he had done, as Edison and the Lumière Brothers would do years later.

Le Prince and Family

That September, while his wife and children awaited him in New York, Le Prince gathered his inventions and prepared for the long journey. Le Prince would travel to France to visit family and friends before crossing the Atlantic. On September 16, his brother Albert sent him off while boarding the train to Paris at Dijon, and The last person to see him was his brother.

But when the train arrived in Paris, Le Prince wasn’t on the train, nor were they in their bags. No strange behavior was reported either at Dijon station or on the train, and no bodies were found along the way. Le Prince without a trace had disappeared.

This is the only known fact about this strange phenomenon to date. However, a lot of theories have been put forward and the most widely accepted ones are:

Le Prince had millions of dollars in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. He committed suicide because he felt trapped.


This theory is accepted by some, but some people also attached to his family and he thinks it’s impossible for someone who can move to America or even a city like New York to have debt or to have debt that drives him to suicide. Also, Le Prince was looking forward to showing his inventions to people.

Allegedly, his brother Albert owed Le Prince a lot of money, so his brother killed him.


This conspiracy was brought forward because both the debt incident and the last person to see Le Prince alive was his brother. However, among them there was no hint of animosity or debt. In addition, the remaining letters show that Le Prince was very fond of his family and brother.

The patent wars of the 19th century finished Le Prince.

Thomas Edison

At the beginning of the article, we said Edison’s jealousy. That’s what the patent wars are all about. Allegedly at that time, Edison dominated the motion picture industry. He wanted total control. That’s why Le Prince, who was working in this field, wanted to eliminate it without applying for a new patent.

There are those who find this theory wrong, supported by many, even Le Prince’s wife, because at that time, like Le Prince, who invented the world-class camera, There were a lot of people dealing with motion pictures. Edison had no reason to kill or have Le Prince killed.


We’ll probably never know exactly what happened to Louis Le Prince. But in any case, despite its tragic end, Le Prince made a great and lasting contribution to the history of cinema. Definitely “Father of Cinema” deserves the title.


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