L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a Train) is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. Contrary to myth, it was not shown at the Lumières' first public film screening on 28 December 1895 in Paris, France: the programme of ten films shown that day makes no mention of it. Its first public showing took place in January 1896.
The train moving directly towards the camera was said to have terrified spectators at the first screening, a claim that has been called an urban legend.
Initial release: 1895
Directors: Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière
Running time: 0.8333 minutes
Producers: Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière
Cinematography: Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière
Genres: Documentary film, Short Film, Indie film, Silent film, Black-and-white
The film is associated with an urban legend well known in the world of cinema. The story goes that when the film was first shown, the audience was so overwhelmed by the moving image of a life-sized train coming directly at them that people screamed and ran to the back of the room. Hellmuth Karasek in the German magazine Der Spiegel wrote that the film "had a particularly lasting impact; yes, it caused fear, terror, even panic." However, some have doubted the veracity of this incident such as film scholar and historian Martin Loiperdinger (de) in his essay, "Lumiere's Arrival of the Train: Cinema's Founding Myth". Whether or not it actually happened, the film undoubtedly astonished people in the audience who were unaccustomed to the amazingly realistic illusions created by moving pictures. The Lumière brothers clearly knew that the effect would be dramatic if they placed the camera on the platform very close to the arriving train. Another significant aspect of the film is that it illustrates the use of the long shot to establish the setting of the film, followed by a medium shot, and close-up. (As the camera is static for the entire film, the effect of these various "shots" is affected by the movement of the subject alone.) The train arrives from a distant point and bears down on the viewer, finally crossing the lower edge of the screen.
This 50-second silent film shows the entry of a train pulled by a steam locomotive into a train station in the French coastal town of La Ciotat. Like most of the early Lumière films, L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat consists of a single, unedited view illustrating an aspect of everyday life. There is no apparent intentional camera movement, and the film consists of one continuous real-time shot.
L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (translated from French into English as The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (US) and The Arrival of the Mail Train, and in the United Kingdom the film is known as Train Pulling into a Station).