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Robert Paul: Giant of Early Film

The most prolific filmmaker of the pioneer period of British film

The multi-talented Robert Paul (1869-1943) was the first British filmmaker to project film for a paying audience, in 1896. A contemporary of the Lumiere brothers, Paul had been producing film, in partnership with Birt Acres, for his own brand of Kinetoscope viewer since April 1895. Shortly after, he began producing for his Theatrograph and Animatographe machines, enjoying a long run at the Alhambra in Leicester Square. As an engineer, Paul made a number of significant innovations - such as an intermittent mechanism for efficiently projecting film. But he also made key innovations in film language, such as the first two-shot fiction film, Come Along Do! (1898). To cap it all, he was a shrewd businessman, with an instinctive grasp of audience tastes.

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Fatal HandFatal Hand

Crime19077 minsSilent

There’s a killer on the loose in Muswell Hill

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Aberdeen University Quarter Centenary CelebrationsAberdeen University Quarter Centenary Celebrations

Non-Fiction190632 minsSilent Location: Aberdeen

Edward VII and Queen Alexandra open new buildings at Marischal College, Aberdeen

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Drat That Boy!Drat That Boy!

Comedy19042 mins

A boy being supervised by his grandmother sees a chance for mischief

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The "?" MotoristThe "?" Motorist

Science Fiction19063 minsSilent

The lengths that some people will go to, just to avoid a speeding ticket… in this case to Saturn and back.

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Blackfriars BridgeBlackfriars Bridge

Non-Fiction18961 minsSilent Location: Blackfriars Br

Top-hatted pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic pass over Blackfriars Bridge in London

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Extraordinary Cab AccidentExtraordinary Cab Accident

Trick film19031 mins

A comic traffic incident

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Dancer's DreamDancer's Dream

Fantasy19053 minsSilent

A ballerina enjoys a fantastical dance

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The Medium Exposed? Or, A Modern Spiritualistic SeanceThe Medium Exposed? Or, A Modern Spiritualistic Seance

Comedy19067 mins

Faking the ability to contact the dead proves to be a big mistake for one Edwardian charlatan.

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The Derby 1896The Derby 1896

Sport18960 mins

A pioneering example of filmed news: from Epsom to the screen in record time

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Miner's Daily LifeMiner's Daily Life

Interest film19045 minsSilent Location: Shirebrook

A day in the lives of colliers at Shirebrook coal mine on the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire border

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FootpadsFootpads

Crime18961 minsSilent

A simple special effect enlivens an early crime film

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Coronation Durbar at DelhiCoronation Durbar at Delhi

Non-Fiction19022 mins

Pomp and circumstance marking the coronation of King Edward VII as Emperor of India.

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A Lively Quarter-dayA Lively Quarter-day

Comedy19066 minsSilent

Chaos reigns as the removal men do their worst…

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Waif and the Wizard; or, The Home Made HappyWaif and the Wizard; or, The Home Made Happy

Trick film19012 minsSilent

A boy asks a magician to entertain his sick sister in this edition of RW Paul’s Sentimental Songs with Animated Illustrations.

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Launch of H.M.S. AlbionLaunch of H.M.S. Albion

Non-Fiction18982 minsSilent Location: Blackwall

The launch of H.M.S Albion, which was marred by the collapse of a gangway which resulted in many spectators drowning.

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Nurses Attending the WoundedNurses Attending the Wounded

War18991 minsSilent

Brits versus Boers... or are they?

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BreakersBreakers

Non-Fiction18960 mins

A handful of passers-by watch waves breaking gently onto a shore

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Army Life; Or, How Soldiers Are Made - InfantryArmy Life; Or, How Soldiers Are Made - Infantry

Non-Fiction19000 minsSilent

Fragment of an epic, starring the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

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Scrooge; Or, Marley's GhostScrooge; Or, Marley's Ghost

Fantasy19016 minsSilent

Debut film outing for Dickens' Yuletide classic

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Comic Costume RaceComic Costume Race

Non-Fiction18961 minsSilent

Plenty of laughs to be had as these Victorian clowns attempt to run a charity race - if they can get their wigs on

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Come Along, Do!Come Along, Do!

Comedy18981 minsSilent

A museum visitor takes an interest in a nude sculpture - to his wife's annoyance - in a sadly incomplete early film comedy

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Gordon Highlanders Leaving for the Boer WarGordon Highlanders Leaving for the Boer War

18991 mins Location: Aberdeen

A rambunctious crowd greets the Highlanders in Aberdeen, some more interested in the camera than the soldiers.

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Up the RiverUp the River

Drama18961 mins

A river tragedy is narrowly averted in this early dramatic scene

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The Kiddies' CakewalkThe Kiddies' Cakewalk

19031 minsSilent

Four-year-old girl and boy dance a mean cakewalk

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RobberyRobbery

Crime18971 minsSilent

A Victorian gentleman is robbed at gunpoint, not just for his wallet but for his hat and suit as well. Oh, the humiliation

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Two A.M.; Or, The Husband's ReturnTwo A.M.; Or, The Husband's Return

Comedy18961 minsSilent

A drunken spouse gets his just desserts in a timeless scene

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Sirdar's Reception at GuildhallSirdar's Reception at Guildhall

Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent

Military hero Lord Kitchener is presented with the Freedom of the City of London.

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Rough Sea at DoverRough Sea at Dover

Non-Fiction18950 mins

Waves crash onto a jetty on the Kentish shoreline in one of Britain's earliest surviving films

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Rocky ShoreRocky Shore

Non-Fiction18960 mins

The hypnotic spectacle of waves breaking over rocks

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Surprising a PicketSurprising a Picket

War18990 minsSilent Location: Muswell Hill

A reconstruction of a Boer War atrocity made by one of early cinema's greats.

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Tom Merry, Lightning Cartoonist, Sketching Kaiser Wilhelm IITom Merry, Lightning Cartoonist, Sketching Kaiser Wilhelm II

Trick film18950 mins

Quick on the draw: Victorian cartoonist Tom Merry does a rapid sketch of Kaiser Wilhelm II

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Tetherball, Or Do-doTetherball, Or Do-do

Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent

At sea for weeks on end, Victorian sailors had to find ways to amuse themselves and get a little exercise in too

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Mr. Pecksniff Fetches the DoctorMr. Pecksniff Fetches the Doctor

Comedy19042 minsSilent

An Edwardian father-to-be is the star of this RW Paul caper.

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Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - Paul - St Paul's South - Arrival of Queen's CarriageQueen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - Paul - St Paul's South - Arrival of Queen's Carriage

Non-Fiction18971 mins

Queen Victoria can just be made out under her umbrella in this sequence filmed in St Paul’s Churchyard during her Diamond Jubilee.

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Tommy Atkins in the ParkTommy Atkins in the Park

Comedy18981 minsSilent

A soldier takes boisterous revenge when an unwelcome stranger interrupts his romantic moment

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Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - Paul - York Road - Front of ProcessionQueen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee - Paul - York Road - Front of Procession

18971 mins

Carriages full of well-heeled guests continue in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession, filmed for RW Paul.

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Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Paul (York Road 1)Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Paul (York Road 1)

18971 mins

A clear view of the head of the procession at Westminster

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The Gordon HighlandersThe Gordon Highlanders

Non-Fiction18971 mins

The Gordon Highlanders parade over Edinburgh's (brand) New North Bridge

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The Twins' Tea PartyThe Twins' Tea Party

Comedy18961 minsSilent

These two little lovelies were captured on screen by RW Paul and were the hit of his 1896 Alhambra show.

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His Only PairHis Only Pair

Comedy19021 minsSilent

Grandma sews a patch on her grandson’s trousers

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Delhi DurbarDelhi Durbar

Non-Fiction191110 minsSilent

A film produced to celebrate the coronation of George V as King-Emperor at the Imperial Durbar of 1911.

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Extraordinary WaiterExtraordinary Waiter

Comedy19021 mins

Alarming so-called 'comedy' featuring an irate tourist and a recalcitrant waiter in blackface

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Deonzo BrothersDeonzo Brothers

Performance19011 minsSilent

The fabulous Deonzo Brothers in a spectacular barrel-jumping stage act

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Royal TrainRoyal Train

Non-Fiction18960 minsSilent

Detective work reveals… this very early film was shot at Southampton Royal Pier Station. But who’s the VIP on board?

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Artistic CreationArtistic Creation

Trick film19012 minsSilent

This burlesque film fantasy has striking sexual overtones - and a surprising feminist twist

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His Brave DefenderHis Brave Defender

Crime19011 minsSilent

When a couple's home is burgled, the missus proves her mettle by confronting the culprit, come what may

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Children in the NurseryChildren in the Nursery

Comedy18981 mins

Seen but not heard? Three children get up to mischief after mother puts them to bed in this Victorian entertainment.

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