"What was striking about the recent film The Imitation Game wasn't just the incredible story of Alan Turing, the man who helped the Allies win the Second World War by cracking Germany's Enigma code, only to find himself chemically castrated for being gay. It was the epilogue that informed us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, criminalising homosexual activity, led to 49,000 gay men being convicted of gross indecency in the UK. If you subtract Turing and Oscar Wilde from that total, that’s 48,998 stories that still haven't been told." Why is television still ignoring gay lives? – Matt Cain for The Independent. [more inside]
Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
In the mid-1920s, Claude Friese-Greene filmed The Open Road, a record of his journey through Britain, using the 'Biocolour' technique first developed by his father William. Eighty years later, the BFI produced a digital version of the preserved and restored film. We've seen London in 1926 previously on MeFi, but there's plenty more of The Open Road to see, including weavers in Kilbarchan (1:16), farmers harvesting with oxen in Cirencester (0:52), Glamorgan coal-miners (0:46), and more. [more inside]
The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
The Snipist - a post-apocalyptic nightmare set in a post-rabies Britain (warning: absolutely bleak). A Gun For George - a short film about crime-writer Terry Finch, author of the 70s Kentish fiction masterpieces The Reprisalizer. [more inside]
The British Council Film Collection "is an archive of over 120 short documentary films made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. Preserved by the BFI National Film Archive and digitised by means of a generous donation by Google, the films are now yours to view, to download and to play with for the first time." A couple of essays and case studies also already up, with more to come.
The Reel History of Britain, a BFI/BBC co-production, brings archive film into the nation’s living rooms. The footage shown in the series has been selected from the hundreds of thousands of films and programmes preserved in Britain’s film and television archives. We are complementing the series by making many of the films featured in The Reel History of Britain available online in their entirety, alongside expert commentary from the nation’s archive curators.
The British Film Institute has a youtube channel with rare footage going back over 100 years, covering many aspects of British life. Highlights include: 'Solarflares Burn For You' (1973) (featuring a soundtrack by Robert Wyatt); Rush Hour, Waterloo Station (1970); London Bridge (1926); Productivity Primer (1964); Today in Britain (1964); Snow (1963); Holiday (1957).
Snow is a short film directed by Geoffrey Jones (1931-2005) and shot by Wolfgang Suschitzky [imdb], simultaneously spectacle and social-commentary it can be viewed online (YouTube). Snow was made under the aegis of British Transport Films (wiki) and nominated for an Oscar in 1965; unable to afford to licence his choice of soundtrack—“Teen Beat” by Sandy Nelson—Jones enlisted Johnny Hawksworth to rerecord “Teen Beat” with an altered tempo and effects by Daphne Oram [wiki, BBC]. The result is a masterpiece of sound and image.
It's been estimated that the average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. So how hard would it be for an average citizen to disappear completely? That’s the subject of a new documentary film: Erasing David, (Trailer: YouTube, Vimeo) which premieres this evening in the UK on More4. It's also now available worldwide online at the iTunes store and through several Video On Demand services, as well as through Good Screenings. [more inside]
Music! - A 1968 documentary by the National Music Council of Great Britain, featuring folk singing, The Beatles, and even early electronic music produced by tape splicing. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.
Colour on the Thames is a 7 minute film shot in 1935 using Gasparcolor, one of the many early forms of tinting black and white film. Beside Colour on the Thames, which provides a wonderful view of 1930's England, the only film made in Gasparcolor I could find online was Colour Flight by New Zealand artist Len Lye, an abstract cartoon set to instrumental 1930's pop music. The story of Gasparcolor is in itself interesting, for instance touching on Nazis, Hungary between the wars and early color animation.
Christmas in the London Blitz, 1940; Making Christmas Crackers, 1910; Santa Claus, 1898; Christmas is coming, 1951: short films from the British Film Institute's wonderful Youtube Channel (including excellent playlists), which you can also explore through Google Earth using the kmz file found here.
The Return of a Clockwork Orange - Writers, artists, directors, UK film censors and starring actor Malcolm McDowell discuss Stanley Kubrick's classic film A Clockwork Orange
'Films from the Homefront' is a (new) collection of amateur documentaries, newsreels, government films, and home movies documenting life for the ordinary people in Britain during World War II, with background text descriptions/explication. Browse the themes. The films are QT and wmv format. I found it both poignant and funny, for instance, seeing kids don gasmasks during air raid drills then attempt to continue writing in their lessons. [via Glasgow School of Art Library]
British Board of Film Classification - the BBFC is a non-governmental industry body responsible in the UK for rating films depending on their content. Their site provides listings of recent film and video classifications (even in RSS format!), along with guidelines for each classification possible. There's also an interactive children's version (with an article on how the last Harry Potter film was rated), and one aimed at students (with case studies regarding 'controversial' films such as A Clockwork Orange and Crash.
And they have their own private cinema...
And they have their own private cinema...
Nation on film Hundreds of short clips of British life through the years from the BBC, exploring the use of film as an eyewitness to history.