This film is part of Free

Chasing De Wet

A story from South Africa recreated rather closer to home

Trick film 1901 Silent


This very brief dispatch from the Boer War (just a few feet of which miraculously survive) was likely shot somewhere within easy reach of Blackburn - home to filmmaking duo Mitchell and Kenyon. You wouldn't guess it from this tiny fragment, but the film shows two British soldiers attempting to capture Boer General Christiaan de Wet (which would have been a major coup for the British, if it had ever happened).

The slightly comic theatrics of the performances wouldn't have been lost on audiences of the time, who were probably under no delusions that this was authentic battlefield footage. Chasing De Wet was one of a number of Boer War recreations shot by Mitchell & Kenyon - other titles released around the same time included The Surprise of a Boer Camp, The Sneaky Boer and Hands off the Flag. Such reconstructions of contemporary events were thought by historians to be M&K's specialty, until the 1990s discovery of hundreds of long-lost, mostly non-fiction films (as well as some fictions and reconstructions - including this one), prompted a major reassessment.