The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies

S. & S. Audio. Apr. 2022. 11:59 hrs. ISBN 9781797139272. $23.99. CRIME
Americans typically credit Thomas Edison with inventing motion pictures in 1894, while the French believe it was their Lumière Brothers in 1895. However, in a new book he calls a “ghost story, family saga, and unsolved mystery,” film producer and writer Fischer (A Kim Jong-Il Production) reports that Louis Le Prince’s 1888 film of his family walking in their Leeds, England, garden is actually the world’s first. Because he mysteriously disappeared in 1890 before making his patented invention public, polymath Le Prince is relatively unknown. Fischer’s well-researched cultural and film history is enriched by details about his family, especially his long-suffering wife Lizzie, a sculptor and innovative art teacher for the deaf who supported the family financially while raising their children almost single-handedly, as Le Prince labored for years on his camera. Emily Ellet’s narration highlights her warm voice and perfect pacing—slower when describing technical details, and faster as suspense builds toward Le Prince’s disappearance. Oddly, even though Ellet clearly possesses the vocal versatility to create distinct character voices, she says “quote” and “unquote” at every quotation, even when the quotation marks surround a single word.
VERDICT Despite those few strange moments, film and history buffs will find this compelling.
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