Exposition Universelle films


The Exposition entrance at the Place de la Concorde.

Yes, films of the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. This week I’ve been reading Philippe Jullian’s book about the Exposition (more about the admirable Monsieur Jullian later) and it was only when he mentioned early cinema screenings as one of the entertainments that I realised I hadn’t looked for films of the Exposition itself. YouTube has the goods, of course, and those goods are unavoidably primitive given the age of the prints and the infancy of the medium. Quality isn’t the point, however, what matters is the thrill of looking back 110 years to see these fleeting structures and their visitors. Most of the footage seems to have been filmed by the Edison Company and the filmmakers conveniently let us know that it was the month of August. According to Jullian, Paris was suffering from a heatwave at the time but you wouldn’t know it from the way everyone is dressed although most of the women (and some of the men) are carrying parasols. In addition to the period footage, there’s also the channel of a 3D animator who’s been creating computer models of the buildings. I’ve thought for some time that these vanished expositions could be resurrected using 3D modelling so it’s encouraging to find someone doing exactly that.

The films:
Thomas Edison’s L’ Exposition Universelle de 1900 à Paris | A compilation of the shorts with intertitles.
Panoramic view of the Place de la Concorde
Esplanade des Invalides
Panorama from the Moving Boardwalk
Eiffel Tower lift
The Palace of Electricity

Update: The Edison shorts and some other Exposition clips not listed above can also be found in the Edison film archive at the Library of Congress. You need to go to this page and use the search term “paris” to receive a list. They’re still low-res, unfortunately, but at least the files haven’t been put through YouTube’s compression filters.


The Palace of Electricity.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Exposition jewellery
Exposition Universelle catalogue
Exposition Universelle publications
Exposition cornucopia
Return to the Exposition Universelle
The Palais Lumineux
Louis Bonnier’s exposition dreams
Exposition Universelle, 1900
The Palais du Trocadéro

2 thoughts on “Exposition Universelle films”

  1. I just realised that I have this book, that is if you are referring to the 1974 The Triumph of Art Nouveau – Paris Exhibition 1900.

    Can’t say as how I’ve read it, but the illustrations are pretty nice.

  2. Hi Anne. Yes, that’s the one, it’s been the perfect thing to assuage my obsession with this exposition! Well, almost assuage…

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