Capturing the world of the nineteenth century

It is over 40 years since IMAX® astonished audiences at Expo ’70 in Osaka. That was over 70 years after W.K-L. Dickson, in 1896, first astonished the world with images captured on his Biograph camera.

Born in France, before emigrating to the US via England, Dickson developed the world’s first successful motion picture system for Thomas Edison. Driven by his desire to improve picture resolution Dickson branched out with three associates to form the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. They embarked on a unique venture using a 68mm film stock to record scenes of daily life and important figures with which to enthral audiences wherever the films were screened.

From streetcars on New York’s Union Square to the Presidential campaign of William McKinley, Dickson captured the world on the very first large-format motion picture film.

Filming the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII and numerous other personalities of the day, Dickson’s legacy is a visual treasure trove of the end of the 19th Century and early 20th Century. Embedded with troops in the Boer War of 1899-1902 he enabled modern warfare to be seen on the Biograph’s giant screen.

Surviving examples of his work are rarely seen and then in poor quality 16mm or 35mm versions – the stunning inherent quality lost for over a century.

Image shows an original 68mm Biograph film, A Hard Wash (USA 1896)