Beijing - Northern Capital
Beijing's ancient streets and palaces come alive in a collection of fascinating and often beautiful travelogues and home movies shot between 1908 and 1939.
Beijing has been at the heart of China's political and cultural life for almost a thousand years. Though much of its ancient fabric is preserved, swathes of the city were lost in decades of urban regeneration projects. So these films from the first half of the 20th century open a window on to the city's lost past. Chinese filmmakers weren't active when the earliest films of Beijing (then known as Peking) were made, so these British and European films are among the only moving images of that time. Thanks to these pioneering cameramen, we can witness everyday life in the last years of the Qing dynasty, make our way from the European quarter of the city to the magnificent Forbidden Palace and the bustling Grand Canal, or roam the streets around the Qianmen gate. These often amateur cinematographers offer us a fresh look at a majestic and complex city, from the palaces and pagodas of Beihai Park, a trek around the Great Wall with intrepid honeymooners, to a cruise down the Grand Canal to Shanghai. This may be a Beijing seen through western eyes, but they are the eyes of a rapt enthusiast, not a jaded tour guide.
Travelogue19106 mins Location: Qinglongqiao
The austere beauty of the Great Wall of China's rugged mountain passes, in a travelogue tracing a caravan of camels' journey to Beijing.
Beijing - Coal Hill Street Scenes and the Forbidden CityBeijing - Coal Hill Street Scenes and the Forbidden City
Amateur film193815 minsSilent Location: Beijing
This delightful colour film features Beijing's Forbidden City, the Summer and Winter palaces as well as parks, processions, a drama school and a Chinese picnic.
Amateur film19292 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Beijing's Forbidden City is the star attraction in this film from the late 1920s, featuring historic buildings, the Lion's Gate and an early panorama across the city.
Amateur film192316 minsSilent Location: Hong Kong
This unique and beautiful tour of Southeast Asia and China is a treasure trove of picturesque views of Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.
Amateur film19293 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Dancing bears and camels feature in views of Beijing's Summer Palace in the late 1920s filmed by an expat couple who are later seen enjoying a traditional Chinese meal.
Amateur film193911 minsSilent Location: Taimiao (Imperial Ancestral Temple)
These wanderings of an amateur filmmaker take in city streets, markets and Chinese acrobats in lively 1930s Beijing.
Amateur film19324 minsSilent
A sumptuous city wedding, captured on film by a retired British teacher and amateur filmmaker, during a trip to China.
Amateur film193830 minsSilent Location: Forbidden City
This stunning colour film features the only known pre-war footage of Seoul as well as Beijing, the Great Wall, the Marco Polo Bridge and many other famous landmarks.
Amateur film19385 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Gates, palaces and temples all feature in this rare colour film from 1938 filmed mainly in the seemingly empty grounds of Beijing's Forbidden City.
Amateur film19334 minsSilent Location: Forbidden City
Take a tour around the gates of Beijing’s sprawling Forbidden City during its transition from Imperial home to World Heritage Site.
Amateur film19335 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Join the hustle and bustle of Peking and Shanghai city life with this richly detailed 1930s home movie.
Amateur film193714 minsSilent Location: Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)
Indulge in a spot of time-travel with this 1930s sightseeing tour of ancient Chinese monuments.
Amateur film192812 minsSilent Location: Forbidden City
A pair of honeymooners take in Beijing on their way to the Great Wall of China in this intrepid and intimate adventure.
Travelogue193658 minsSilent Location: Guangzhou
An epic amateur travelogue of eastern China on the cusp of Japanese invasion, filmed by British writer Lady Dorothea Hosie.
Amateur film19294 minsSilent Location: Tianjin
Fascinating snapshots of life in Tianjin, northern China's largest coastal city.
Amateur film19294 minsSilent Location: Tianjin
Revealing amateur snapshots of Chinese and European communities in Tianjin, northern China's largest coastal city.
John Mills Collection Film 37 - China/Hayley-BellsJohn Mills Collection Film 37 - China/Hayley-Bells
Amateur film192910 minsSilent
An amateur film of rural China in the early 1930s shot by the actor John Mills’ father-in-law, showing farming and transport methods in Tianjin.
City Streets; Funeral; Rural Scenes - China, C1932/33City Streets; Funeral; Rural Scenes - China, C1932/33
Amateur film19334 minsSilent
The buzz of Chinese city street life is contrasted with an elaborate funeral procession and brief rural scenes in this absorbing amateur film.
Travelogue192549 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Scenes of bustling city life in east Beijing and the funeral procession of Sun Yat-Sen, founder of the Republic of China.
Documentary19089 mins Location: Shanghai
Take a cruise through imperial China on the world's longest man-made waterway, the Grand Canal.
Amateur film19322 minsSilent Location: Beijing
Home movie snapshots take in a visit to a rock-face, a Beijing temple and skilled Shantou seamstresses hard at work in Guangdong Province, South China.
Amateur film19320 minsSilent Location: Beijing
This amateur film from the Eng family's collection includes views of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.