This film is part of Free

China (1928)

A pair of honeymooners take in Beijing on their way to the Great Wall of China in this intrepid and intimate adventure.

Amateur film 1928 12 mins Silent


This film was made by a British couple honeymooning in South East Asia and China. It's a charming record of what must have been an incredibly exotic (and expensive) visit to Beijing and the Great Wall. Taking in views of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, the film’s major interest is in antiquity – but in among the palaces and pagodas are striking images of local people and customs.

Surprising highlights include: a sea-sickeningly shaky shot (filmed over-the-shoulder of a rickshaw driver) of the approach to the Meridian Gate – entrance to the Forbidden City; and later, trekking scenes at the Great Wall near Qinglongqiao at the end of a journey on the Beijing-Baotou Railway. You can tell that the film wasn’t ever cut or physically edited. Instead each shot – separated by a white flash marking when the photographer stopped and started the camera – is recorded in chronological order. Watching almost a century later, the honeymooners’ touristic adventure remains both intrepid and intimate.