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Accrington Catholic Procession (1912)

Filmed record of a local parade crammed with detail and charm.

Non-Fiction 1912 9 mins Silent


This late Mitchell and Kenyon epic paints a superbly detailed portrait of a pre-WWI Catholic community - layered by clerical hierarchy, class, age, gender, cassock, surplice, suit and frock, bonnet, boater and bowler. The pageantry betrays its mixed roots in recent migration and old local families: Irish blood with English heart. Finally all pomp is burst by a joyous spill-out on to the street.

By 1912, the Mitchell and Kenyon film company was a shadow of its former self, no longer whizzing round Britain on behalf of a wide network of showmen, but instead confined to recording occasional local events in the filmmakers' Lancashire heartlands. Their coverage of the Whit procession to Accrington's Sacred Heart church feels studied and tired when compared with the infectious high-spiritedness of so many of the shorter films the producers had made in their pioneering days. All the same, at a time when everyone's films (not just M&K's) were getting longer, and film itself more familiar, what this film loses in vitality and brevity, it gains in documentary value. It would take endless viewings to pick up all the cultural details packed into this fascinating film.