68mm: the Mutoscope and Biograph collection at Eye

The films of the Mutoscope and Biograph are the oldest films in our vaults. The collection of Mutoscope and Biograph films consists of 200 films of approximately one minute each. The films are quite rare, only the British Film Institute has a similar smaller collection.

The films were shot on a very large format that was quickly outdated, but which yielded spectacularly beautiful images: 68mm. Apart from the format, the material is unusual because it doesn't have sprocket holes, so the image fills the entire width of the film strip. This produces an image quality that is comparable to IMAX - 8 to 16K in digital terminology.

Most 68mm films contain rare images from various locations in Europe, with an image quality that after 120 years is still one of the best that film can transmit.

Mutoscope & Biograph

The collection owes its name to The Mutoscope and Biograph Company. The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company was founded in 1895 by William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, a former employee of Thomas Edison. Dickson, originally an Englishman, wanted to expand his business in Europe and several subsiduaries of the Mutoscope and Biograph Company were established in different countries. Dickson filmed special events in France, Britain, Italy ... and the Netherlands.

physical condition and restoration

Eye has owned this collection since the 1980s. However, while the physical condition of the films is excellent, the unusual features of the 68mm format mean that digitization of the material is not without its challenges.

68mm is quite a rare format and because it also has no perforation like normal analogue film, this material is very difficult to either transport or steady in a scanner using conventional equipment. Additionally, because of the size of the frames, scanning should happen at 8K resolution. After scanning, the image can be restored to get as close as possible to the original properties of the film.

previous restorations

In the 90s, the Nederlands Filmmuseum preserved a selection of Mutoscope films through photochemical reproduction to 35mm reduction prints. Although inevitably a lot of image quality was lost, the 35mm format had the advantage of being a standard film format, which made projection possible for the first time in decades. These earlier preservations have already been digitized. You can view them here:

meet the archive

This restoration project was presented during Meet the Archive, the annual collection day of Eye.

playlist Mutoscope & Biograph on YouTube

The films on this page have their own playlist on YouTube.

Les Parisiennes
Director: unknown | Production Country: United States | Year: 1897 | Production Company:  American Mutoscope Company

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The coronation of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland at Amsterdam
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate (Great Britain)

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Bath Scene
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1899 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate

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Boulevard van Scheveningen
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate

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Hondenkarren
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson | Production Country: Great Britain, The Netherlands | Year: 1898 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij , British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate

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Molens van de Zaanstreek
Director: unknown | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate

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Aankomst der vredesconferentie te Haarlem, 4 juni 1899
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederland

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Amsterdam's vreemdelingenverkeer
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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De zieke gemeente-ambtenaar
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope

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Dokter weet raad
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Een kinderfeest op 't eiland Marken
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Een trambestorming op zondag op den Dam
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Production Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Na afloop der kindervoorstelling in den Circus O. Carré 13 Sept. ll.
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Naar 't Tolhuis
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Production Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Prinsengracht
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Tolhuis! Kiele! Kiele!
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Watersnood in buurt YY
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Weeshuis-quaestie
Director: Emile Lauste | Production Country: The Netherlands | Year: 1899 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij , Hollandsch Tooneelgezelschap Grand Théâtre

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De Leidsche studenten-feesten
Director: unknown | Production Country: The Netherlands | Production Year: 1900 | Production Company: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij

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Conway Castle - Panoramic View of Conway on the L. & N.W. Railway
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate (Great Britain)

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Kerstman en fee
Director: unknown | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 [?] | Production Company:  British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate (Great Britain)

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Has He Hit Me?
Director: unknown | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1898 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate (Great Britain)

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King John
Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, Walter P. Dando | Production Country: Great Britain | Year: 1899 | Production Company: British Mutoscope and Biograph Company

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Man Falls in Bath
Director: unknown | Production Country: United States | Year: 1898 | Production Company: American Mutoscope Company

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Why Papa Cannot Sleep
Director: unknown | Production Country: UK/United States [?] Year: 1898 | Production Company: British/American Mutoscope Company

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Charlie Wanted the Earth
Director: Frank S. Armitage | Production Country: United States | Year: 1899 | Production Company: American Mutoscope and Biograph (United States)

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Hurdle Jumping by Trained Dogs
Director: unknown | Production Country: United States | Production Year: 1899 | Production Company: American Mutoscope and Biograph

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Skating in Central Park
Director: Frank S. Armitage | Production Country: United States | Year: 1900 | Production Company: American Mutoscope and Biograph (Verenigde Staten)

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Edgar Allan Poe
Director: D.W. Griffith | Production Country: United States | Year: 1909 | Production Company: American Mutoscope and Biograph

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