Royal Geographical Society
Ascend the Himalayan peaks, sail through mighty oceans and traverse thickets of African jungle – all in one extraordinary collection of films.
This stunning collection makes available for the first time the Royal Geographical Society’s invaluable film archive. Stored at the BFI National Archive for the past 80 years, but until now only available to view for researchers, the collection is an unparalleled record of both spectacular natural beauty and bold human endeavour.
Discover a rich array of films, encompassing footage of pioneering explorers like Ralph Bagnold and John Noel, the meticulous recordings of RGS-sponsored geographical surveys, and amateur film deposited with the Society by diplomats such as Sir Clarmont Skrine.
As well as chronicling important expeditions, registering rare tribal customs, and capturing regions that have undergone dramatic change, the collection compiles a fascinating trove of nonfiction filmmaking craft, from the early Kodacolor exploits of George Sherriff to the technological innovations of Stewart Blacker and Dr Hamilton Rice.
With this globe-spanning collection of over 120 films (many of which are feature-length) all available to watch for free, intrepid viewers can now explore the world at will, enjoying a unique record of 20th-century life on Earth.
Colour film (narrated by Meredith Edwards) telling the story of the ‘Mount Everest Expedition 1953’, which saw the first successful ascent of the mountain.
A fascinating glimpse into life at high altitude for the party of the Mount Everest Expedition 1933 which intended, but ultimately failed to summit Everest.
Released by British-Gaumont in 1934, this film documents The ‘Houston Mount Everest Expedition’ organized by Major L V Stewart Blacker, to fly over Mount Everest
A fascinating insight into the ‘British Museum (Natural History) Expedition to East Nepal 1961-1962’ capturing the lives of researchers and locals alike in this stunning setting.
News Bulletin reviewing evidence (and possible existence) of the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti, from the Eric Shipton-led Everest expedition of 1951
Colour footage shot in Delhi on the 1953 Everest expedition's return. Includes group receiving gold medals from Nehru and an official welcoming reception by the Indian Government.
Amateur film1955107 mins
Amateur footage of the British expedition to Kangchenjunga in 1955. Led by Charles Evans, this expedition saw the first ascent of the mountain.
Amateur film193454 mins
During the 1930s Sherriff and Ludlow carried out a series of plant and bird collecting expeditions working eastward along the main Himalayan ranges.
Amateur film192716 mins
Fascinating footage of Indian customs, shot by intrepid plant hunter Major George Sherriff during his tenure as Vice Consul at Kashgar. This film shows a journey undertaken by George Sherriff from Gilgit to Kashgar.
Footage revealing the devastating aftermath of one of Asia’s most destructive earthquakes that took place in Quetta, Pakistan in 1935.
Experience what life was like across China in 1939 prior to the outbreak of World War Two in Frances Hotham’s fascinating documentary film.
This 1931 travelogue records a trip from Canada to Honolulu, journeying across China before completing the homeward journey via Singapore, the Red Sea and Port Said.
Amateur film19467 mins
Kathakali performance featuring the great Indian dancer Guru Gopinath, filmed in remarkable colour by ‘envoy of the Raj’ Clarmont Skrine
Amateur film194011 mins
A trip to the spectacular city of Bundi and a Kathakali dance performance, filmed in vivid colour by 'envoy of the Raj' Clarmont Skrine.
Amateur film195016 mins
Amateur silent colour film by a British diplomat showing buildings and gardens in Lahore, New Delhi and Kashmir, ending with views of distant Mount Everest.
Amateur film193411 mins
British Diplomat Clarmont Skrine records footage of an early long-haul flight from Europe to India, documenting their stop-offs in British territories en-route to their destination.
Silent, pre-World War Two documentary recording the people, landscapes and industries of the Federated Malay States, (1895-1946), which were to become modern-day Malaysia in 1963.
Take a trek with a research expedition as they traverse the dense rainforest floor, hacking their way through the vine-entangled undergrowth that ensnares their every turn.
Amateur film1924202 mins
An ambitious second expedition to the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago led by George Binney, student, artic explorer and seaplane pioneer, 7 July – 5 September 1924.
Amateur film193756 mins
Join James Wordie on his 1937 Arctic expedition venturing the frozen seas of Baffin Bay encountering native Greenlandic Inuit along the way.
Interest film192435 mins
Documentary footage of the Bullock-Hornby expedition across the Canadian Sub-Arctic revealing the pairs struggle for survival against the harsh elements in this unforgiving landscape.
Film of the Canadian Army and Air Force Exercise ‘Musk-Ox’ in 1946, documenting the journey from Churchill in Hudson Bay to Grand Prairie in Alberta.
Amateur film showing this University-led expedition to study the geography, geology and botany – as well as cultural contacts between the Inuit peoples – of Greenland.
Silent colour rushes of English mountaineer and explorer Bill Tilman bound for Greenland in 1961-62 in search of new mountain challenges on his boat 'Mischief'.
Colour film entitled ‘Mischief Goes South’ by Mike Edwards, documenting Bill Tilman’s voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, 1966-67.
Deleted scenes from ‘Mischief Goes South’ by Mike Edwards, which documented Bill Tilman’s voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, 1966-67.
A silent documentary film exploring the people, natural landscapes, industry and culture of this dramatic North Atlantic island nation; the most sparsely populated in Europe.
Amateur film19478 mins
A silent documentary film produced, directed photographed and edited by student member of the expedition, Charles Swithinbank.
Colour film of the very first international science expedition to Antarctica, outlining its aims, and recording the outbound journey of the ‘Norwegian-British-Swedish Expedition 1949-52’ team.
An educational film from 1936 using moving models and diagrams of the earth and sun to demonstrate the fundamentals of physical geography.
Amateur film193015 mins
Gerald Thompson's record of the 1938 Oxford University Cayman Islands Expedition. This was the first natural history survey of all three islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, and reports were written about the flora, fauna, geology and wetlands.
A silent black & white and colour information film with inter-titles showing the city of Strasbourg, the Alsace region of France and the Swiss Alps.
Amateur film19507 mins
Amateur film by British diplomat Clarmont Skrine recording the alpine foothills and Basque coastline of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of south-western France bordering with Spain.
Amateur film194812 mins
Amateur colour film, by Sir Clarmont Skrine, showing various monuments and places in Southern Iran including Rey, Qom, Isfahan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Bushire, Yazd, Kerman and Mahan.
Amateur film194516 mins
Amateur colour film, by Sir Clarmont Skrine, (Counsellor for Indian Affairs in Teheran 1946 to 1948) showing personal and professional events through this time.
Amateur film195517 mins
A 1955 film illustrating travels in central-northern Iran, bordering the Caspian Sea and Alborz Mountains capturing the landscapes and daily life of the region.
Footage documenting various excavations led by E.W. Gardner at archaeological sites situated across Greece during the late 1920s and early 1930s.
This silent colour film documents the south-western coastline of the present-day Republic of Yemen, from the port of Mukalla to the region bordering Saudi Arabia.
Amateur film193049 mins
Ralph Bagnold, pioneer of desert exploration, pushed the limits of automotive technology, culminating in his 1932 expedition – the first east-west crossing of the Libyan Desert.
Amateur film195814 mins
Short colour, silent, compilation of unedited film footage of Istanbul, Baghdad and Iran: 1944 to 1958. Showing major tourist attractions and Sir Clarmont Skrine’s family.
Amateur film194313 mins
1943 film of Peshawar, Kabul, Bamiyan, Herat and Mashhad; documenting a journey through the North West Frontier territories by British diplomat Clarmont Skrine during WWII.
Amateur film194440 mins
Hugh Bennett’s visit to South Africa in 1944, as filmed (in colour) by C.J.J. Van Rensburg of the Soil Conservation Division, Department of Agriculture.
A silent film made for British Instructional Films Ltd, by Graham Ball, a film expert attached to the Department of Overseas Trade, in 1928.
Amateur film193016 mins
An amateur silent film illustrating the people and places of northern Nigeria, by Charles Bruce. From daily market life to adobe architecture, the film also features ceremonies and horse racing at a traditional Durbar.
Colour, silent film recording people, costumes, rites and festivities seen at a Durbar, which celebrates the culmination of Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
This b&w film documents the return of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, following exile to England from 1936-41 during the Italian occupation of his country.
Amateur film19349 mins
A sequence of home movie film clips from the sack-race to the 1934 Derby and Wimbledon, reflecting the sporting and leisure interests of the day.
The first film of Tibet, by Captain John Noel from the 1922 British expedition to Mount Everest, which was led by Brigadier General Charles Bruce.