Spotlight Australia: World's First Dramatic Film

This blog entry has been re-printed with permission from the Spotlight Series, a world trivia blog which highlights one continent per post. 

One of the world's earliest film studios, The Limelight Department, was located in Melbourne. The Department, ran by the Salvation Army, began in 1892 with slide projections used as a means to evangelize through storytelling.

"[I]nspiration for the name [came] from the light source used for slide projection and theatre spotlights at the time. Blocks of lime were heated to white incandescence by a gas jet, usually generated by heating chemicals in a retort beside the projector." --

In 1898, with the increasing popularity of "actualities," as movies were first called, the Department added motion pictures to their roster of methods of entertainment and enlightenment.

Although there has been some debate about whether Limelight's Soldiers of the Cross (1900) is the world's first feature-length film, there has been little debate that the film is the world's first dramatic movie.  
"Soldiers of the Cross depicted the lives of the early Christians; it ran for over 2½ hours and comprises fifteen 90-second films and 200 slides, accompanied by oratory and music. It was an illustrated lecture rather than a "true" feature film." -- Salvation Army

Note: The honor of the world's world's first feature length film goes to another Australian film: The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), produced by Johnson & Gibson.

Limelight produced over 300 films before the studios shut down productions in 1909.


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