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.
Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine
Comedy191414 mins Location: Twickenham
The intrepid Lieutenant Pimple thwarts foreign enemies in an action-packed wartime spy spoof.
From Antwerp to Ostend
On the brink of invasion, holidaymakers promenade while refugees shelter in beach huts on the Belgian coastline in 1914.
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Buckingham Palace
The campaign for women's suffrage steps up as Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
General French's Contemptible Little Army
Animation & Artists Moving Image19147 mins
Mixing lightning sketches with animation, this propaganda cartoon comes to life in defence of the British fighting force of 1914.
Preparing the Rations
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.
Motor V. Aeroplane
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Brooklands
A visit to the famous Brooklands race track in Weybridge, Surrey, where Saturday afternoon crowds gather for the big race.
Stone Age Village: Sir H. Beerbohm Tree Assists in the Hastings Pageant Festivities
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Hastings
Legendary theatrical actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree steps back in time as guest of honour at a historical pageant in East Sussex.
Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa
Romance191434 mins Location: Cefn Ydfa
Lovingly rendered version of a traditional Welsh folk tale of thwarted romance, set in 17th-century Cefn Ydfa.
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.
The Magic Glass
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...
Rare shots of the London Scottish Battalion, also known as 'Cockney Jocks' or 'Piccadilly Allsorts', fresh from a gallant victory at Ypres.
Finding His Counterpart
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.
Battle of Lebbeke
Extraordinary early WWI footage of Belgian army delaying the German advance - aided by bicycles, armoured cars and machine-gun pulling dogs.
Dogs for the Antarctic
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Beddington
Ernest Shackleton's sledge-dogs pause to promote 'Spratt's Dog Cakes', en route to the South Pole.
Ring and the Rajah
"East is east and west is west": an Indian maharajah falls for an Englishwoman with disastrous consequences in this early fiction short.
Carpentier and Gunboat Smith
Boxing stars Georges Carpentier and 'Gunboat' Smith pull the crowds ahead of their title bout for the World White Heavyweight Championship.
Army Cross Country
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Aldershot
Private Daly of the Connaught Rangers triumphs in the Aldershot Command annual cross country race, months before the outbreak of WWI.
German Gun in London
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.
The Man Who Never Made Good
Comedy19148 mins Location: Croydon
A bungling bumpkin fails at a number of jobs in this slapstick comedy - before he finds his true calling.
The Austrian Tragedy
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.
The Rollicking Rajah
Variety show19143 mins
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.
An Engagement of Convenience
Silent British star Alma Taylor finds love in this dramatic short, which packs forgery, blackmail and romance into its 15-minute running time.
Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People
Wonderfully clear newsreel pictures of a parade through Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution.
Henley Finals Witnessed by Enormous Crowds
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Henley-on-Thames
A grand turn out for the last Henley Royal Regatta before World War I.
Fire Fighters in Hyde Park
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Hyde Park
George V and Queen Mary swap flowers for medals at an annual Fire Brigade display in Hyde Park.
From the Fighting Top of a Battleship in Action
Britannia rules the waves! Scenes of a battleship at gunnery practice, with fine shots of the guns firing.
Sir Edward Carson in Belfast
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Belfast
Sir Edward Carson speeds through an inspection of members of the Ulster Volunteer Force before hot-footing it to London for urgent talks on the Home Rule crisis.
Winchelsea and Its Surroundings
Travelogue191411 mins Location: Winchelsea
Legendary Punch cartoonist Harry Furniss leads a pictorial tour of the beautiful East Sussex town.
The British in Belgium
School programme and Educational film193011 mins
In Flanders fields - this educational compilation of WWI footage tries to teach the most important lesson of all: never again
The King's Visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Shrewsbury
Non-Fiction19147 mins Location: Shrewsbury
A sneak peek at the shires of Shrewsbury on display for the King’s visit to the county fair
Ritchie, The World's light-weight Boxing Champion, Training for His Fight with Freddy Welsh at Olympia.
Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Westminster
Soon to be ex-champion Willie Ritchie prepares for his title bout with Freddie Walsh.