Capturing the beauty and brutality, the magic and madness of rural Britain.
Immerse yourself in the films featured in Paul Wright's captivating archive odyssey.

Scouring 100 years of footage from archives around the UK, BAFTA-winning Wright has created an exhilarating study of the British people’s shifting - and contradictory - relationship to the land. Arcadia goes on a sensory, visceral journey through the contrasting seasons, taking in folk carnivals and fetes, masked parades, water divining and harvesting. Set to a grand, expressive new score from Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) alongside folk music from the likes of Anne Briggs. 

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Around the Village GreenAround the Village Green

Travelogue193712 mins Location: Finchingfield

Rural life in the Essex villages of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield - and the mixed reactions of older residents to changing times.

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One Foot in EdenOne Foot in Eden

Documentary197849 mins Location: Orkney Islands

Orkney evoked through poetry, the sounds of nature, and the music of Peter Maxwell Davies.

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A Day in the HayfieldsA Day in the Hayfields

Non-Fiction19043 minsSilent Location: Walton-on-Thames

Midsummer haymaking larks

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West of EnglandWest of England

Industry sponsored film195110 mins Location: Stroud

The Stroud valleys of Gloucestershire in glorious Technicolor - and with a Laurie Lee script.

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Documentary198423 mins Location: Newark-on-Trent

From shire horses to the Royal Marines, welcome to the annual Newark Show. A serious business for the farming community, with prizes to win and 800 gallons of beer to be drunk.

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Springtime in an English VillageSpringtime in an English Village

Documentary19447 mins Location: Stanion

An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.


Arcadia (2017)

Watch Paul Wright's stunning feature documentary, assembled from these archive films.

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"Oh to Be in England""Oh to Be in England"

Amateur film194713 minsSilent Location: Harrow

Bluebells, wisteria and snowdrops feature in this lovely colour film showing the effect of nature on the London suburb of Harrow after the war.

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Cuckfield Silver Jubilee 1977.Cuckfield Silver Jubilee 1977.

Amateur film197728 mins Location: Cuckfield

Cuckfield comes together to plan and celebrate the 1977 Silver Jubilee with contributions from the whole community.

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Government sponsored film194517 mins Location: Fenlands, The

Fascinating documentary about the management of the East Anglian Fens, an intricate network of 17th-century waterways carved through peat bogs.

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In Welsh Hills - a record of pleasant hours among the mountains of SnowdoniaIn Welsh Hills - a record of pleasant hours among the mountains of Snowdonia

Amateur film195015 minsSilent Location: Nant Ffrancon

A film highly commended in 1950 by the National Eisteddfod in Caerffili, the Scottish Amateur Film Festival, and Amateur Cine World magazine.

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Here and There in the British IslesHere and There in the British Isles

Travelogue193129 minsSilent Location: London

Good composition and a keen eye for an unusual perspective turn what could be a hodgepodge compilation of short travelogues into a visual treat.

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Lowland VillageLowland Village

Documentary194210 mins Location: Lavenham

A peaceful depiction of Lavenham, Suffolk, the medieval village known for its use in the 1968 film Witchfinder General.

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Salute to FarmersSalute to Farmers

Documentary194114 mins

With feeding the nation a wartime priority, agricultural workers are heralded as soldiers of the plough.

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Radford ReviewRadford Review

Amateur film195222 minsSilent Location: Radford Semele

The villagers of Radford Semele in Warwickshire know how to have fun: from the eccentrically costumed football players to the joys of the village fete.

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Song of the WoodsSong of the Woods

Amateur film193712 minsSilent Location: Kent

You can almost hear the wind in the trees, the gurgling water and the bells for Evensong in this beautifully shot film from Frank Barnitt

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Tribe of the SunTribe of the Sun

Documentary197224 mins

The ill-fated dreams of Sid Rawls’ band of ‘ultra hippies’ attempting a self-sufficient communal life on John Lennon’s ‘Beatle Island’.

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Wisdom of the WildWisdom of the Wild

Documentary194012 mins

Fun mixture of natural history and wartime public information.

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The Quiet LandThe Quiet Land

Travelogue197423 mins Location: Lough Erne

A rare portrait of Northern Ireland in a time of conflict as “a land where the pace of life is more friendly, where everybody cares and nobody minds”.

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A Romany SummerA Romany Summer

Documentary197743 mins Location: Yorkshire and the Humber

With their battered vardo, scruffy kids and assorted horses in tow, Cocker and Ellie are on an “endless odyssey”, visiting Appleby Fair, trying to eke out their own chosen life.

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Spare TimeSpare Time

Documentary193914 mins Location: Sheffield

A rare glimpse into the leisure pursuits of ordinary people in pre-war Britain.

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Amateur film196029 mins Location: Burrator Reservoir

A documentary on Burrator reservoir in the Dartmoor National Park

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The Pioneers of NudismThe Pioneers of Nudism

Amateur film193827 minsSilent Location: Bricket Wood

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...

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Action in Slow MotionAction in Slow Motion

19433 minsSilent

A naked woman cavorts innocently at the seaside in this 1940s nudist film, strictly for artists and students only

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It Never Really HappenedIt Never Really Happened

Trick film19304 minsSilent Location: Southwark Br

Do our eyes deceive us? Trick shots galore in this magical tour of London.

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Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland

Fantasy190310 minsSilent

The first-ever film version of Lewis Carroll's tale, made just 37 years after the novel’s publication and eight years after the birth of cinema.

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Enchanted GardenEnchanted Garden

Amateur film193112 minsSilent Location: Arncliffe Cote

A magical dream sequence of dancing fairies that seems to draw upon very early moving images of staged dances of fairy tales, beautifully performed by enchanting children.

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Getting It Straight in Notting Hill GateGetting It Straight in Notting Hill Gate

Documentary197025 mins Location: Notting Hill

Spaced-out sitar music and the prog rock grooves of Quintessence soundtrack this psychedelic flashback to Notting Hill Gate in 1970.

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Solarflares Burn for YouSolarflares Burn for You

Animation & Artists Moving Image19738 mins Location: St Austell

Come on a psychedelic journey to Cornwall in this stunning, sensual film.

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Hiker's HauntHiker's Haunt

Amateur film195017 minsSilent Location: Knole Park

Disrespectful townie hikers get what's coming to them when the woodland spirits of Knole Park take their revenge.

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The Pixies of Ottery St MaryThe Pixies of Ottery St Mary

Current affairs19631 minsSilent Location: Ottery St Mary

Pixies pop up everywhere before being banished once again from the town.

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Tame Animals at WorkTame Animals at Work

Interest film19096 minsSilent Location: Ampthill Park Ho

Ostrich-riding and other outrageous animal antics at a private zoo in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

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Swat That Fly!Swat That Fly!

Documentary19156 minsSilent

Warning - not safe for work lunch! This public health film on the common house fly is designed to make you squirm

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Butcher's guardpumaButcher's guardpuma

Current affairs19763 mins Location: Ilfracombe

Solomon the guard puma - put your paws up!

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The Aetherius Society at Holdstone DownThe Aetherius Society at Holdstone Down

Current affairs19635 mins Location: Holdstone Down

Aetherius people join together to help the planet at Holy Mountain

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Elsie and the Brown BunnyElsie and the Brown Bunny

Advert19218 mins Location: Bournville

This early Cadbury advert plays like a surreal outtake from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.

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A Dog's life by BonzoA Dog's life by Bonzo

Amateur film195512 minsSilent

Pity poor Bonzo. Bought by a couple who quickly tire of his doggie antics, he's now the object of murderous intentions. But can Bonzo redeem himself in time to save his skin?

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Documentary19718 mins

Excitable or restless? Learn how to control your impulses in this safety film from the National Coal Board

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I Saw This, November 1940I Saw This, November 1940

Home movie194017 minsSilent Location: Swallownest

An enigmatic pot-pourri of a film of a village in wartime. Although life appears here as normal, an inauspicious motif seems to lurk within the avant-garde cinematic style.

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The PeachesThe Peaches

Animation & Artists Moving Image196416 mins

Meet a very beautiful, very clever girl who adores peaches in Michael Gill's BFI-funded fantasy short.

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The FloodThe Flood

Children's196359 mins Location: Ely

Eight East Anglian kids trapped by floods must fend for themselves in this wet and windy film adventure.

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The WarningThe Warning

Documentary193933 mins

Powerful and sometimes disturbing account of Britain's defences against enemy attack - made six months before WWII.

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The Silent VillageThe Silent Village

Government sponsored film194336 mins Location: Cwmgiedd

The villagers of Cwmgiedd re-enact a Nazi massacre in Czechoslovakia, in Humphrey Jennings’ unforgettable propaganda film.

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Today We LiveToday We Live

Documentary193724 mins Location: South Cerney

A key social issues film documentary from the British Documentary Movement, this two-part film follows the establishment of social enterprises in England and Wales.

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Paradox CityParadox City

Documentary193223 minsSilent Location: St Pancras

A call to action contrasting the grand homes of the wealthy with "the appalling shelter of thousands of decent citizens" in London slums.

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March against StarvationMarch against Starvation

Campaigning film193631 minsSilent Location: Hyde Park

Poverty and hunger compels angry, jobless workers - including Jarrow's crusaders - to make a historic march to London to petition government.

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Death Is Their DestinyDeath Is Their Destiny

Amateur film197813 mins Location: London

Fascinating amateur footage of London punks, and a glimpse of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, filmed on the King's Road in 1978.

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The Smoke MenaceThe Smoke Menace

Industry sponsored film193711 mins Location: Westminster

The deadly downside of Britain's industrial might: smog.

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Contrasts in KensingtonContrasts in Kensington

Amateur film193711 minsSilent Location: Kensington

Shocking scenes of Kensington slums and 1930s housing developments offer a sharp contrast with today's reinvented area.

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Drama196512 mins Location: Highgate Cemy

A bittersweet short about a young girl who spends an afternoon playing in Highgate Cemetery where she discovers what the future may have to offer.

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Punk Can Take ItPunk Can Take It

Promotional197919 mins

This power-packed promotional film for the UK Subs also showcases the distinctive talents of unconventional writer and director Julien Temple.

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Empire TroopsEmpire Troops

19173 minsSilent

The might of the British Empire is mobilised for war during 1914 and 1915.

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Inter-city MagicInter-city Magic

Documentary19771 minsSilent

Not-so-special special effects add the magic touch to this kitsch British Rail commercial.

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The Airy TombThe Airy Tomb

Drama196313 mins Location: Pontrhydfendigaid

An isolated life can mean that home is nothing more than an “airy tomb”, as imagined by poet and rural parish priest R S Thomas.

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Road to YesterdayRoad to Yesterday

Travelogue194432 mins

Widgey Raphael Newman, the short-lived, extraordinarily-named director of this period piece, has assembled attractive images of Wales but beware the commentary!

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Documentary197017 mins Location: Ilford

To the front line of London's early 1970s' housing crisis in this angry campaign film.

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Pinner WeekPinner Week

Amateur film197021 mins Location: Pinner

A tour of Pinner Village during its celebratory Pinner Week highlights local landmarks, fun, fancy dress and festivities.

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The Stevenstone Hunt BallThe Stevenstone Hunt Ball

Current affairs19707 mins Location: Stevenstone

Revellers gather at the Hunt Ball to witness some hornblowing

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Documentary199712 mins

Partying like it's 1997. We follow a rave DJ instigator rigging up decks in abandoned warehouses, a nosebleed 'techno tourist' who chases the hardcore around Europe and a girl addicted to... partying.

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Somewhere in HackneySomewhere in Hackney

Documentary198050 mins Location: Hackney

An entertaining study of community arts projects in Hackney, Hoxton and Dalston, before hipsters and Tony Blair.

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Chudleigh ConservationistChudleigh Conservationist

Current affairs19718 mins Location: Chudleigh

Author Ewan Clarkson talks of his passion for nature

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The WatchersThe Watchers

Drama196926 mins Location: Todmorden

A Yorkshire teenager begins to see and hear strange things in this unsettling slice of 60s sci-fi.

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Harewood by George: A Profile of the Seventh EarlHarewood by George: A Profile of the Seventh Earl

Documentary198239 mins Location: Harewood House

A life unfolds, from fear of asking for the loo as a child, to being imprisoned in Colditz and sentenced to death by Hitler, and on to becoming a leading player in the world of opera.

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A Light through the CloudsA Light through the Clouds

Documentary195537 mins Location: Heslington

What a mental health nurse learns at York Retreat, 1954: from lectures on “failure in human relationships” and insulin, to psychotherapy, electric shock treatment and dancing.

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Wonders of YorkshireWonders of Yorkshire

Amateur film197410 mins Location: Kilburn

Rocks resembling alien creatures, a giant white horse, wooden mice, a cave where a famous prophetess lived, and a teddy turned to stone.

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Blowing Up the DalesBlowing Up the Dales

Documentary198726 mins Location: Ribblehead

The pros and cons of quarrying in national parks, and the irony of a state of affairs where what aids the enjoyment of landscape also destroys it.

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Wildlife in LondonWildlife in London

Nature and Science programme196125 mins Location: Hackney Wick

The beginning of a ground-breaking, award-winning documentary series that would lead the way in wildlife photography.

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Animation & Artists Moving Image197022 mins

A man loses everything he has day-dreaming his way through life

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The Hungry GrassThe Hungry Grass

Amateur film19815 mins Location: Ballyclare

After one hundred years what will it take to finally satisfy the hungry grass?

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Being and DoingBeing and Doing

Documentary198455 mins

Ken McMullen and Stuart Brisley consider the links between performance art and folk ritual.

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Documentary197727 mins

One of the most disturbing public safety films depicts six children being picked off one-by-one by deadly farming machinery.

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The Finishing LineThe Finishing Line

Instructional film/TV programme197721 mins

In this surrealist short, John Krish and Michael Gilmour tell a perilous tale at the railway station. Mind the gap - this is going to get scary.

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Best of Friends: Russell and VictorBest of Friends: Russell and Victor

197615 minsSilent Location: Armley

Days of heaven for two young friends in the idyllic wilds of Armley, Leeds.

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Documentary198728 mins Location: Eardisley

What does the future hold for Herefordshire's children? A farming inheritance is no longer a given and even the historically rock-solid village life is losing its permanence.

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Lady LazarusLady Lazarus

Animation & Artists Moving Image199124 mins

A cinematographic response to Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus with Plath’s own readings of her poetry

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Animation & Artists Moving Image199141 mins Location: Limehouse

Deliciously dark psychodrama about a Docklands bus driver who turns his family home into a second Noah's ark.