It can be argued that cinema was created in France by Louis Lumiere in 1895 with the invention of the cinematographe, the first true motion-picture camera and projector. While there were other cameras and devices invented earlier that were capable of projecting intermittent motion of images, the cinematographe was the first device capable of recording and externally projecting images in such a way as to convey motion. Early films such as Lumiere's La Sortie de l'usine, a minute-long film of workers leaving the Lumiere factory, captured the imagination of the nation and quickly inspired the likes of Georges Melies, Alice Guy, and Charles Pathe. Through the years, French cinema has been responsible for producing some of the world's best directors-Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, and Louis Malle-and actors-Charles Boyer, Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, and Audrey Tautou. The Historical Dictionary of French Cinema covers the history of French film from the silent era to the present in a concise and up to date volume detailing the development of French cinema and major theoretical and cultural issues related to it.
This is done through a chronology, an introduction, photographs, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on many of the major actors, directors, films, movements, producers, and studios associated with French cinema. Going beyond mere biographical information, entries also discuss the impact and significance of each individual, film, movement, or studio included. This detailed, scholarly analysis of the development of film in France is useful to both the novice and the expert alike.