review for Lumière and Company on AllMovie

Lumière and Company (1995)
by Dan Friedman review

Lumière & Company is a tremendous achievement in celebration of the centennial of what is considered to be the first motion picture. Similar to asking the most accomplished electric guitar player to go acoustic, the producers asked a collection of international film directors to create a 52-second piece each using the same technology as the Lumière Brothers did over a hundred years ago. Among the more well-known participants are David Lynch, Wim Wenders, John Boorman, Spike Lee, James Ivory, Zhang Yimou, and Liv Ullman. Each segment is intriguing. While the results are understandably uneven, the pleasure of watching this film is in discovering the remarkable diversity in the working minds of motion picture's prominent practitioners. Given the nearly limitless possibilities available in the modern film industry, it's worth noting how each director chose to make use of their limited time and yet still capture the basics of their own styles. The subject matter ranges from miniature narratives to political statements and social documents, and the locations are as assorted as the directors themselves. Although this film may seem a bit obscure and tedious to the non-enthusiast, historians and die-hard cinema fans will marvel not only at the multiple ideas that spring forth, but also at how well the Lumière camera still functions.