The Victorian Street
Some of the most fascinating of early films are those which are content to watch the Victorian world go by. Numerous filmmakers parked their cameras on street corners, outside workplaces or churches, or into sports venues to capture moments of everyday life.
In their own day, these films held a mirror up to Victorian society. Today, they offer us extraordinary insights into a lost world, more vivid than any still photograph or written account.
Crowd Entering St George's Hall, Bradford (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Saint George's Hall
Bradford boys wait eagerly for the picture show at the famous St George's Hall.
The early filmmakers couldn't take their cameras indoors - the lamps powerful enough to illuminate the scene weren’t yet available. So it's a good thing so much of Victorian society could be seen outside.
The distant ancestors of today's TV news, 'topical' films captured news of their day - though typically that meant public events like parades, royal occasions or sporting fixtures rather than, say, politics.
In 1895, at the very dawn of cinema, Louis and Auguste Lumière turned their camera on workers at their Lyon factory. By 1900, Blackburn-based Mitchell & Kenyon, among others, had turned that subject into a genre - even a business model.
Sea Wave Films
The 'sea wave' genre might be one of the more surprising genres to come out of early film. But for Victorian audiences there was something hypnotic about these compact studies of movement.