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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.

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.

"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 and industry which is always in the front when assistance is needed."

Kine Year Book looking back on 1914

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1914 on Film

Recommended

View Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine
Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine
Watch for free 14 mins

Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine 1914

The intrepid Lieutenant Pimple thwarts foreign enemies in an action-packed wartime spy spoof.

14 mins United Kingdom

View From Antwerp to Ostend
From Antwerp to Ostend
Watch for free 7 mins

From Antwerp to Ostend 1914

On the brink of invasion, holidaymakers promenade while refugees shelter in beach huts on the Belgian coastline in 1914.

7 mins United Kingdom

View German Spy Peril
German Spy Peril
Watch for free 19 mins

German Spy Peril 1914

Inventive WWI propaganda in which a rejected volunteer foils a German plot to blow up Parliament.

19 mins United Kingdom Director. Bert Haldane

View Christmas Carol
Christmas Carol
Watch for free 20 mins

Christmas Carol 1914

A well-acted early version of Charles Dickens' much loved Christmas story, featuring some impressive ghost sequences.

20 mins United Kingdom

View The Gloves of Ptames
The Gloves of Ptames
Watch for free 10 mins

The Gloves of Ptames 1914

A mysterious pair of gloves from an ancient Egyptian tomb cause chaos in this silent 'trick' comedy.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Egypt and Her Defenders
Egypt and Her Defenders
Watch for free 10 mins

Egypt and Her Defenders 1914

Cairo street scenes, the pyramids, the majestic Nile and a visiting Lord Kitchener in a gorgeous tinted travelogue.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Palace Pandemonium
Palace Pandemonium
Watch for free 1 mins

Palace Pandemonium 1914

The campaign for women's suffrage steps up as Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested at the gates of Buckingham Palace.

1 mins United Kingdom

View How Things Do Develop
How Things Do Develop
Watch for free 8 mins

How Things Do Develop 1914

Two budding photographers enjoy a day's happy snapping in this quaint comedy caper.

8 mins United Kingdom Director. Hay Plumb

View Mr Churchill's Departure
Mr Churchill's Departure
Watch for free 1 mins

Mr Churchill's Departure 1914

A handsome steam launch ferries the future PM downriver to the luxury yacht 'Enchantress'.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Balloon Accident at St Cloud
Balloon Accident at St Cloud
Watch for free 1 mins

Balloon Accident at St Cloud 1914

An aeronautical accident is caught on camera at a Parisian 'Aéro-Parc'.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Sea Dreams
Sea Dreams
Watch for free 4 mins

Sea Dreams 1914

Skilled artist Lancelot Speed brings his cartoons to life to mock the German navy at the start of WWI.

4 mins United Kingdom

View An All-round Athlete
An All-round Athlete
Watch for free 1 mins

An All-round Athlete 1914

Swimming champion Walter Brickett enters the record books with an incredible feat of physical endurance.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Red Cross Dogs
Red Cross Dogs
Watch for free 1 mins

Red Cross Dogs 1914

Talented and obedient Red Cross dogs prepare to rescue Berlin's wounded from the Front.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Venetian Shores
Venetian Shores
Watch for free 5 mins

Venetian Shores 1914

Blissful scenes of tourists arriving by boat and then sea bathing on a beach in the Venetian lagoon.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Servants Superceded
Servants Superceded
Watch for free 6 mins

Servants Superceded 1911

Two gifted servants perform magical feats for their employer with the aid of some impressive cinematic trick effects.

6 mins United Kingdom Director. Percy Stow

View Lord Mayor's Show
Lord Mayor's Show
Watch for free 1 mins

Lord Mayor's Show 1914

Colonial troops greet London's new Lord Mayor in a patriotic wartime ceremony.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Preparing the Rations
Preparing the Rations
Watch for free 1 mins

Preparing the Rations 1914

Ear-to-ear grins prove that an army marches on its stomach in this poignant film of young WWI reservists at a field kitchen far from home.

1 mins United Kingdom

View General French's Contemptible Little Army
General French's Contemptible Little Army
Watch for free 6 mins

General French's Contemptible Little Army 1914

Mixing lightning sketches with animation, this propaganda cartoon comes to life in defence of the British fighting force of 1914.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Motor V. Aeroplane
Motor V. Aeroplane
Watch for free 1 mins

Motor V. Aeroplane 1914

A visit to the famous Brooklands race track in Weybridge, Surrey, where Saturday afternoon crowds gather for the big race.

1 mins United Kingdom

View England Expects
England Expects
Watch for free 1 mins

England Expects 1914

A memorial to Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square inspires new heroes as war rages again in Europe.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Wrecked "Rohilla"
Wrecked "Rohilla"
Watch for free 1 mins

Wrecked "Rohilla" 1914

A hospital ship is tragically wrecked off the North Yorkshire coast during World War I.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Indian's Memorial Service
Indian's Memorial Service
Watch for free 1 mins

Indian's Memorial Service 1914

Exotic visitors cause a stir at West London's Brompton Cemetery

1 mins United Kingdom

View Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa
Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa
Watch for free

Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa 1914

Lovingly rendered version of a traditional Welsh folk tale of thwarted romance, set in 17th-century Cefn Ydfa.

50 mins United Kingdom Director. William Haggar Jr

View Our Submarines
Our Submarines
Watch for free 1 mins

Our Submarines 1914

British submarine inspection at Spithead just before the start of World War I. This was issued in December after a sub sunk a ship in the Dardanelles action of 1914.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
Watch for free 8 mins

Mike Murphy As Picture Actor 1914

Cut! An aspiring thespian runs amok on a film set in this slapstick silent comedy.

8 mins United Kingdom Director. Dave Aylott

View Christmas at the Front
Christmas at the Front
Watch for free 1 mins

Christmas at the Front 1914

Poignant scenes of Allied troops enjoying their Yuletide rations at the first Christmas of WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Winky's Ruse
Winky's Ruse
Watch for free 6 mins

Winky's Ruse 1914

Gregarious tramp Winky tries to get one over on the local innkeeper in this daft silent comic short.

6 mins United Kingdom Director. Cecil Birch

View The Magic Glass
The Magic Glass
Watch for free 10 mins

The Magic Glass 1914

An inventor develops a magnifying glass that can see though solid objects, but when he uses it on his family it proves more curse than boon...

10 mins United Kingdom Director. Hay Plumb

View London Scottish
London Scottish
Watch for free 1 mins

London Scottish 1914

Rare shots of the London Scottish Battalion, also known as 'Cockney Jocks' or 'Piccadilly Allsorts', fresh from a gallant victory at Ypres.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Empress of Ireland Disaster
Empress of Ireland Disaster
Watch for free 8 mins

Empress of Ireland Disaster 1914

Beautiful and chilling newsreel pictures of the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.

8 mins United Kingdom

View Artillery at Alost
Artillery at Alost
Watch for free 1 mins

Artillery at Alost 1914

Belgium's defiance in the face of German occupation is poignantly captured in one long take.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Finding His Counterpart
Finding His Counterpart
Watch for free 9 mins

Finding His Counterpart 1914

A comedy clot takes up phrenology and tries to find his ideal partner by feeling the bumps on women's heads, only to end up as a cannibal's dinner.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Gallant Defenders
Gallant Defenders
Watch for free 1 mins

Gallant Defenders 1914

Retreating Belgian troops arrive in Ostend in the wake of the Siege of Antwerp.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Battle of Lebbeke
Battle of Lebbeke
Watch for free 10 mins

Battle of Lebbeke 1914

Extraordinary early WWI footage of Belgian army delaying the German advance - aided by bicycles, armoured cars and machine-gun pulling dogs.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Gutty Golf Test Match
Gutty Golf Test Match
Watch for free 1 mins

Gutty Golf Test Match 1914

20th century golf measures up against its own past in an intriguing match play game.

1 mins United Kingdom

View And Very Nice Too
And Very Nice Too
Watch for free 9 mins

And Very Nice Too 1914

A vicar is caught flirting with an improperly-dressed chorus girl in this saucy silent comedy.

9 mins United Kingdom Director. Charles Weston

View Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
Watch for free 1 mins

Fife and Forfar Yeomanry 1914

Scots soldiers are drilled in trench warfare techniques in leafy English countryside.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Dogs for the Antarctic
Dogs for the Antarctic
Watch for free 1 mins

Dogs for the Antarctic 1914

Ernest Shackleton's sledge-dogs pause to promote 'Spratt's Dog Cakes', en route to the South Pole.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Ring and the Rajah
Ring and the Rajah
Watch for free 17 mins

Ring and the Rajah 1914

"East is east and west is west": an Indian maharajah falls for an Englishwoman with disastrous consequences in this early fiction short.

17 mins United Kingdom Director. Harold Shaw

View Carpentier and Gunboat Smith
Carpentier and Gunboat Smith
Watch for free 1 mins

Carpentier and Gunboat Smith 1914

Boxing stars Georges Carpentier and 'Gunboat' Smith pull the crowds ahead of their title bout for the World White Heavyweight Championship.

1 mins United Kingdom

View German Prisoners
German Prisoners
Watch for free 1 mins

German Prisoners 1914

Striking WWI scenes demonstrating a wary Belgian army's treatment of German prisoners - and newsreel cameramen...

1 mins United Kingdom

View King's Visit to Belgium
King's Visit to Belgium
Watch for free

King's Visit to Belgium

Moving scenes of wartime devastation in the historic Belgian city of Ypres.

Great Britain

View Army Cross Country
Army Cross Country
Watch for free 1 mins

Army Cross Country 1914

Private Daly of the Connaught Rangers triumphs in the Aldershot Command annual cross country race, months before the outbreak of WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Millionaires at Play
Millionaires at Play
Watch for free 1 mins

Millionaires at Play 1914

Enjoy the chilly thrills and spills of a bobsleigh ride in an exclusive New York suburb.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Lord Lovat's Scouts
Lord Lovat's Scouts
Watch for free 1 mins

Lord Lovat's Scouts 1914

Rare film of soldiers working out before heading to the battlefields.

1 mins United Kingdom

View German Gun in London
German Gun in London
Watch for free 1 mins

German Gun in London 1914

An impressive WWI German field gun exhibited in the grounds of the War Office stands testament to the gains made by allied forces in Europe.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Looping the Loop at Hendon
Looping the Loop at Hendon
Watch for free 1 mins

Looping the Loop at Hendon 1914

Spectacular feats of early aviation at Hendon Aerodrome, North London.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Church Parade
Christmas Church Parade
Watch for free 1 mins

Christmas Church Parade 1914

Recruits of Lord Kitchener's 'New Army' parade on Christmas morning.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Man Who Never Made Good
The Man Who Never Made Good
Watch for free 7 mins

The Man Who Never Made Good 1914

A bungling bumpkin fails at a number of jobs in this slapstick comedy - before he finds his true calling.

7 mins United Kingdom

View The Austrian Tragedy
The Austrian Tragedy
Watch for free 2 mins

The Austrian Tragedy 1914

A muted newsreel tribute to Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand - victim of an assassin's bullet in an event that would soon take Europe to war.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Feeding the Germans
Feeding the Germans
Watch for free 1 mins

Feeding the Germans 1914

A rare glimpse of the WWI enemy at rest for British audiences

1 mins United Kingdom

View Comic Ulster Fight
Comic Ulster Fight
Watch for free 1 mins

Comic Ulster Fight 1914

Alternative Ulster: a village pageant with a difference

1 mins United Kingdom

View A Fisher-girl's Folly
A Fisher-girl's Folly
Watch for free

A Fisher-girl's Folly 1914

A tantalising fragment from a drama of love and jealousy on the North Devon coast.

22 mins United Kingdom Director. George Pearson

View Mexican Unrest
Mexican Unrest
Watch for free 1 mins

Mexican Unrest 1914

The police of Mexico City are given arms during the Mexican Revolution, but seem somewhat unconvincing in this ceremonial parade.

1 mins United Kingdom

View A Patriotic Offer
A Patriotic Offer
Watch for free 1 mins

A Patriotic Offer 1914

An introduction to the wonders of the automobile for curious WWI enlisties.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Naval Review 1914
Naval Review 1914
Watch for free 4 mins

Naval Review 1914 1914

King George V reviews the British fleet at Spithead in July 1914, as Britain steels herself for war.

4 mins United Kingdom Director. Will Barker

View Paris Sensation
Paris Sensation
Watch for free 1 mins

Paris Sensation 1914

Newsreel cameras capture huge crowds thronging the Paris streets for the funeral of an assassinated newspaper editor.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Dublin Civic Exhibition
Dublin Civic Exhibition
Watch for free 1 mins

Dublin Civic Exhibition 1914

Lord and lady reformers crusade for Dublin's civic advancement.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Rollicking Rajah
The Rollicking Rajah
Watch for free 3 mins

The Rollicking Rajah 1914

Early Vivaphone film capturing a jolly music hall routine about a maharajah's visit to London, made to be screened with a synchronised sound disc.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Ostend in War-Time
Ostend in War-Time
Watch for free 1 mins

Ostend in War-Time 1914

Belgian soldiers and civilian refugees gather in Ostend in early WWI, before evacuating to England.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Sound of the Drum
Sound of the Drum
Watch for free 1 mins

Sound of the Drum 1914

A wartime call-to-arms performed by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Sons of the Empire
Sons of the Empire
Watch for free 1 mins

Sons of the Empire 1914

Grinning Canadian troops arrive in England.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Our Naval Losses
Our Naval Losses
Watch for free 1 mins

Our Naval Losses 1914

A moving eulogy to British ships sunk by the German navy in the early months of WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Scout's Valuable Aid
Scout's Valuable Aid
Watch for free 1 mins

Scout's Valuable Aid 1914

Vigilant young Sea Scouts support the war effort by keeping a watchful eye on Britain's coastline.

1 mins United Kingdom

View An Engagement of Convenience
An Engagement of Convenience
Watch for free 16 mins

An Engagement of Convenience 1914

Silent British star Alma Taylor finds love in this dramatic short, which packs forgery, blackmail and romance into its 15-minute running time.

16 mins United Kingdom

View Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People
Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People
Watch for free 1 mins

Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People 1914

Wonderfully clear newsreel pictures of a parade through Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Attack on Antwerp
Attack on Antwerp
Watch for free 1 mins

Attack on Antwerp 1914

Belgian infantry and artillery defend Antwerp against the besieging German army in an early battle of World War I.

1 mins United Kingdom

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