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The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures

A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies

A page-turning history about the invention of the motion picture and the mysterious man behind it—detailing his life, work, disappearance, and legacy.

The year is 1888 and Louis Le Prince is finally testing his “taker” or “receiver” device for his family on their front lawn. The device is meant to capture ten to twelve images per second on film, creating a reproduction of reality that can be replayed as many times as desired. In an otherwise separate and detached world, occurrences from one end of the globe could now be viewable with only a few days delay on the other side of the world. No human experience—from the most mundane to the most momentous—would need to be lost to history.

In 1890, Le Prince was granted patents in four countries ahead of other inventors who were rushing to accomplish the same task. But just weeks before unveiling his invention to the world, he mysteriously disappeared and was never seen or heard from again. Three and a half years later, Thomas Edison, Le Prince’s rival, made the device public, claiming to have invented it himself. And the man who had dedicated his life to preserving memories was himself lost to history—until now.

The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures pulls back the curtain and reveals the riveting story of both Louis Le Prince’s life and work, dispelling the secrets that shroud each. This captivating, impeccably researched work presents the never before told history of the motion picture and sheds light on the unsolved mystery of Le Prince’s disappearance.

Paul Fischer is an author and film producer based in the United Kingdom. His first book, A Kim Jong-Il Production has been translated to date into twelve languages. It was nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Nonfiction Book Award. It was chosen as an Amazon Best of the Year Nonfiction Selection, one of Library Journal’s Top Ten Books of the Year, and one of NPR’s Best Books of The Year. It was also nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for History & Biography. Paul has also written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Independent, amongst others. In addition to writing, he works as a film producer and is an alumni of the Guiding Lights mentorship program. His first feature screenplay, The Body, based on a short film of his conception, was produced by Blumhouse and Hulu in 2018, starring Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair), Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Mindy Project), Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare), David Hull (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), and Ray Santiago (Ash vs. Evil Dead).

“This book tells a story that has been lost to history. It will make you sit up in your seat, and it might even make your hair stand up on end. It is a story about the man who made the first motion picture and about his son, who took his father’s rivals to court in a sensational lawsuit to reclaim that legacy. It is a story about the power of vision, of how a person can make the impossible possible, and about the dangers of obsession, of how a person’s single-minded focus can ruin a family. It is a story full of magic, mystery, and, possibly, murder. After all, it is about the movies.”

—Emily G., Senior Editor, on The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures

"The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures is partly a fascinating history, partly a surprisingly twisted whodunit, and entirely an insightful story of the very human intrigue and interests behind one of the most influential technologies of our time. Take a bow, Paul Fischer." —DEBORAH BLUM, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Poison Squad and the Poisoner's Handbook

"Most people believe Thomas Edison 'invented' the motion picture. But filmmaker and author Paul Fisher here tells the fascinating and largely-forgotten true story of Louis Le Prince, the actual inventor (with patents to prove it) of this world-changing technology. In 1890, just as Le Prince was scheduled to astound the world with the first public viewing of his astonishing invention, he mysteriously disappeared. In Fisher’s meticulous and entertaining history, we meet Le Prince’s rival inventors, with all their travails and triumphs — including a dark and ruthless Edison. Not only does Fisher make the case that Le Prince is the real father of the motion picture, he has also persuasively solved the 130-year-old mystery of Le Prince’s disappearance and death. A terrific book!" —JILL JONNES, author of Empires of Light and Eiffel's Tower