MysteriYES

A comedy show in which two friends discuss a weekly mystery.

Louis Le Prince

Louis Le Prince

  • Born August 28, 1841 in Metz, France

  • Artist who worked both in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as France.

  • He experimented primarily with motion picture technology after visiting the studio of photographic inventor Jacques Daguerre as a child.

  • He studied physics and chemistry in college, and then moved to Leeds, England, where most of his work was done.

  • On October 14, 1888, he became the first person to film a moving picture sequence.

  • During 1889 and 1890, he worked to create a projector along with a mechanic named James Longley.

  • He was successfully able to accomplish this; now he just had to show it to the world.

  • Disappearance

    • September 1890

    • Going to travel to the US for a public premiere of his work.

      • His family had been living in the US for the past three years, and his wife had prepared a theatre for the grand unveiling of his work.

    • Prior to his trip, he went to France to visit family.

    • On September 13, he took a train from Bourges to Dijon to visit his brother Albert.

    • Then on September 16 at 2:42 pm, he got on a train from Dijon to Paris.

    • From Paris he was scheduled to head to London to patent his work before going to New York.

    • His brother Albert waved farewell at the Dijon station, and that was the last that was seen of him.

    • When his train arrived in Paris, his friends found that he wasn’t aboard.

    • The train and the length of track between Dijon and Paris were searched, but there was no sign of Louis or his luggage (including his equipment).

    • No one except Albert remembered seeing him in the Dijon station.

    • No one remembered seeing Louis on the train, or any strange happenings on the train either.

    • The French police, Scotland Yard, and the family mounted monumental search efforts, but the mystery remains unsolved.

    • He was officially declared dead in 1897.

  • Theories

    • Suicide

      • Theory put forth by Louis’ great-nephew (brother’s grandson)

      • Claimed that Louis wanted to kill himself because he was on the verge of bankruptcy.

      • Theory suggests he went to painstaking lengths to make his suicide look like a disappearance into thin air.

      • His work was profitable though and he actually had no financial issues.

      • Also he was proud of his success and was about to premiere it to the world, so suicide is harder to accept (though not impossible!)

    • Forced disappearance by family

      • Some have suggested that Louis was forced to disappear by his family because of financial trouble (which probably wasn’t actually real), or for “familial conveniences”.

      • “Familial conveniences” meaning that he may have been gay and they didn’t want him around.

      • The director of the Dijon Municipal Library was quoted in 1977 as claiming that Louis died in Chicago in 1898, where he was forced to move by his family because he was gay. (How does this guy know anything about it?)

      • There just isn’t any evidence that Louis was gay.

      • Also, why make him disappear for being gay if he was about to become rich and famous? Money can make you overlook a lot!

      • Plus, the family spent a lot of time and money looking for him after he disappeared.

    • Assassination

      • Some have suggested that Louis was assassinated to stop him from patenting his work and being widely hailed as the inventor of the motion picture camera.

        • Louis’ family, especially his widow, believed this.

      • Thomas Edison, among others, were racing against Louis to invent the motion picture camera, so they would have had a motive for him to disappear.

      • After Louis disappeared, his family went to court with Thomas Edison regarding the patent for the motion picture camera.

        • Whoever won this suit would have a legacy in the history of cinematography.

      • Eventually, Edison was named the sole inventor of the motion picture camera, not Louis.

      • Two years after Louis’s son Adolphe testified in the suit, he was mysteriously found shot dead while out hunting ducks.

      • Could Edison have hired someone to take out Louis before he could patent his technology and debut it for the world, thus leaving open the opportunity for Edison to built his own legacy as the sole inventor of motion picture technology?

    • Fratricide

      • Some have suggested that it doesn’t make sense for Louis to purposely disappear by boarding a train.

        • It would have been much easier to disappear in a different manner, after all.

      • Perhaps he never boarded the train in Dijon in the first place, and was murdered by his own brother.

        • Albert was the only one who claimed to see Louis at the station, and no one claimed to see him on the train.

      • Possible motive: Louis’ mother had recently died, and so her children would be receiving quite an inheritance. Could Albert have murdered Louis to increase his share of the inheritance?

        • But why murder a brother who might get rich?

          • (My brother is rich and it’s great for me)

        • Also, the equipment was gone...surely that could have been more profitable than the inheritance?

      • OR COULD HE HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR THOMAS EDISON?!?!?!

  • Effects

    • Because Louis disappeared prior to the patent and reveal of his motion picture technology, he never really got the notoriety he deserved for his work, at least until recent years.