Early cinema reportedly had a visceral influence on its audience as recounted by Maxim Gorky who saw The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in 1896 at the Nizhny Novgorod fair:
“Yesterday I was in the Kingdom of Shadows. If only you knew how strange it is to be there. There are no sounds, no colours. There, everything – the earth, the trees, the people, the water, the air – is tinted in a grey monotone: in a grey sky there are grey rays of sunlight; in grey faces, grey eyes, and the leaves of the trees are grey like ashes. This is not life but the shadow of life and this is not movement but the soundless shadow of movement. (…)The impression it produced was so unusual, so original and complex, that I can hardly convey it in all its nuances, but I can attempt to convey its essence. (…)Suddenly there is a click, everything vanishes and a railway train appears on the screen. It darts like an arrow straight towards you – watch out! It seems as though it is about to rush into the darkness where you are sitting and reduce you to a mangled sack of skin, full of crumpled flesh and splintered bones, and destroy this hall and this building, so full of wine, women, music and vice, and transform it into fragments and into dust. But this, too, is merely a train of shadows.“ (Richard Taylor and Ian Christie (editors). 1988. The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents 1896-1939. London: Routledge, p.25-26.).
Here is Gorky with Tolstoy and Anton Chekov in Crimea, Russia (1901).