“The image needs to come out of the box.” “One night, my brother invented cinema.” The first sentence is from the father and the second from the firstborn. The first one was pronounced Antoine Lumière after admiring in surprise the rudimentary and claustrophobic kinetoscope patented by Edison, and the author of the second is Auguste Lumière after his brother Louis (the same one who found the key to the instant photo) solved in a sleepless night what he himself had been unable to do in long waking afternoons.
The first is the formulation of a desire and the second is definitely just that: pure desire. In the main room of the renovated Light Museum which reopens its doors on Thursday the 26th after almost an entire year of works, the camera is proudly displayed – just a wooden box, dazzling in its simplicity and elegance, with a lens and a 35 millimeter perforated film – to which they refer one way or another the two sentences above as longing and culmination.
The official opening (or reopening of facilities closed since January) will finally take place just a few days after the celebration of the Light Festival, where people as diverse as Wim Wenders, Marisa Paredes, Alexander Payne, Terry Gilliam… or, from the other side of the abysses, Yasuhiro Ozu, Ana Mariscal and Robert Altman. “Inauguration of the museum at the same time as the event would have been too complicated,” comments Fabrice Calzettoni, head of the center’s cultural and pedagogical area, in protocol. His comment occurs while he solicitously shows a mansion from another time that is at the same time a study center, a projection room, a reference institute, a cinematheque, highlight‘ tourist and, if necessary, a place of holy and pagan pilgrimage.
Enter the nineteenth-century mansion of pretensions art deco that houses the new permanent exhibition that honors, explains and even gives splendor to the origins of cinema has a lot of almost fetishistic ceremony and, to put it briefly, political vindication. All together. You step, since it is the Lumière parents’ house, in exactly the same place that the two brothers stepped on and the mansion is located just a few meters from the place where the three versions of ‘Factory departure’ which inaugurated a new art in 1895.
It’s nostalgia, yes; but it is also a reflection of a desirable future from a past, despite its proximity, perhaps long forgotten. “We are clear that dealing with the past is essential not only to understand the present, but because, deep down, both are the same: the present is the past itself,” he says now. Thierry Frémaux, the director of the Lumière Institute on which the museum depends who is also, in effect, the general delegate of the almighty Cannes Festival.