Albert Kirchner (aka Léar) was a French photographer, manufacturer, exhibitor, and filmmaker who is noted for producing several religious and pornographic films. He was employed as a photographer by Eugène Pirou a French filmmaker and pornographer. Kirchner directed a number of pornographic films, including the 1896 film Le Coucher de la Mariee (or Bedtime for the Bride), one of the first pornographic films that featured actress Louise Willy.
He registered three patents for the film camera "Biographe francais Léar" in 1897-1898. He manufactured the camera by a company he himself founded along with two of his college-colleagues — Anthelme and Pacon. Kirchner produced and marketed two variants of "Biographe" — one for 35 mm film and the other for 60 mm film. In 1897, he arranged screenings at multiple locations that included the Oller Museum and the cafe Frontin in French capital Paris.
In partnership with Michel Coissac, who later became a well-known film historian, Kirchner directed the film Passion du Christ (The Passion of Christ) in twelve scenes in 1897. Shot in Paris, it was the first film made based on the story in the Bible. The film was shown in a large number of regions. This film created influence among contemporary film directors and many of them adopted its theme. However some people were angry over the depiction of Christ. Passion du Christ made Kirchner the first filmmaker to direct a film about the life of Christ. Kirchner made Passion du Christ on behalf of a Roman Catholic publishing company, La Bonne Presse.
British Film Institute researcher Stephen Bottomore in Who's Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey suggested Albert Kirchner may be the person behind Lear and Co., a company in Egypt's capital Cairo, which faced prosecution for exporting pornographic pictures to Europe in the year 1901. Assuming Léar is Kirchner, in 1898 in the basement of the Olympia Theatre, he created a cinema. That same year, Gaumont Film Company, a French film production company bought all of his negatives. The cinema closed shortly after this and he died. The exact date of birth and date of death of Kirchner are not found in historical records.
- Bottomore, Stephen; Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan eds. (1996). "Léar (Albert Kirchner)". Who's Who of Victorian Cinema. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 10 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-15.
- Richard Abel, Encyclopedia of early cinema, Taylor & Francis, 2005, ISBN 978-0-415-23440-5, p.518
- Freek L. Bakker, The challenge of the silver screen, BRILL, 2009, ISBN 978-90-04-16861-9
- Clifford Thurlow, Making short films: the complete guide from script to screen, Berg, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84520-804-2, p.11