1914 on Film

What did our forebears watch a century ago? Discover the cinema of 1914 in this very mixed programme from the year the world changed.

What did our forebears watch a century ago? Discover the cinema of 1914 in this very mixed programme from the year the world changed. image

Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting, very democratic form of entertainment coming into its own. Film had left behind the music halls and fairgrounds it had first inhabited and found a home of its own. It was the beginning of the age of the picture palaces.

These often luxurious early cinemas sprang up across the country, offering friendly, sociable entertainment - a more family-oriented alternative to theatres and pubs. Longer feature films were still rare, and the typical programme was an ever-changing roster of short items with live musical accompaniment: perhaps a newsreel, an 'interest' film or travelogue, a comedy or two and a short drama.

Few at the start of 1914 forecast the storm that would engulf Europe by the end of summer. These films also tell us much about the state of the nation in the months before and after the outbreak of a war that would change Britain and film.

100 years on, this collection whisks us back to the world of our cinemagoing grandparents and great-grandparents, allowing us to see for ourselves some of the films they once watched and enjoyed during a night at the cinema in 1914.

Perhaps no industry has done so much in times of necessity and calamity as the motion picture business… We have indeed reason to be proud of belonging to an industry which is always in the front when assistance is needed. Kine Year Book looking back on 1914

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