In the south of France, “Eden-Théâtre”, where the first films of the Lumiere brothers, pioneers of cinematography, were officially recognized as the world’s oldest active cinema by the Guinness Book of Records.
It is located in La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône), near Marseille, and contains the “oldest operating cinema in the world” (the oldest purpose-built cinema) announced at the beginning of July as a reference guide, which lists and certifies world records.
“It is an administrative file of more than two years of research that finds its prize,” Michel Cornell, president of Eden Lights, the operator of the foundation that celebrated its 132nd anniversary in June.
“It’s a huge emotion because all my life I’ve seen my family fight so that Eden can continue to live,” Marie-Laure Smilovici, director of Eden and Back, told AFP. The granddaughter of the historical owners, explaining that she was helped in this battle by the great-grandson of one of the Lumiere brothers.
Opened on June 15, 1889, in this small Mediterranean port of just 12,000 (more than 35,000 today), Eden in its early days hosted theater performances, concerts, and even sporting events for Greco-Roman boxing or wrestling, the cinema website explains.
Its previous owner, Raoul Galaud, was friends with Antoine Lumiere, father of Louis and Auguste Lumiere, who acquired a summer residence in the area. After being invited to take part in the first “cinematic experience” in Lumière on September 21, 1895, he proposed to Antoine to repeat the experience in Aden, explained to AFP the cinematic communications official.
But the show that was staged a few days later was cut short for technical reasons. Then Antoine Lumiere renews the experiment in Paris at the Indian Salon of the Grand Café, which disappeared in the nineteenth century on December 28, 1895, a date that historians consider today the date of the birth of cinema, she explains.
No further projections were made until March 21, 1899 when Eden programs about twenty films of the Lumiere brothers such as “Launching a Ship at La Ciotat”, “A Journey Through the Alps by Rail”, “Cowboys in America” or “Un crêpage de chignons” This is the session that the Guinness Book of Records kept for approval.
The poster for this premiere, now displayed in the hall, proclaims “the most scientific spectacle, wholly moral and intriguing, as tasted by adults as children can be brought up without fear.”