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Comic Costume Race

Plenty of laughs to be had as these Victorian clowns attempt to run a charity race - if they can get their wigs on

Non-Fiction 1896 1 mins Silent


In this sprint of a movie from British film pioneer Robert W Paul, athletes at the music hall sports day scramble to get togged up in clown outfits before they can run their race. The camera's positioning makes it clear that the spectacle is not the race itself, but the costumes. In fact, it's not the costumes but the sight of the men frantically dressing themselves at top speed that provides the laughs. The sports day was a charity event, held at Herne Hill in south London, on 14 July 1896.

Robert W Paul was one of Britain's earliest filmmakers, who pioneered many new techniques. Paul was a successful instrument-maker by trade and became the co-inventor of the country's first moving-picture camera in 1896. He built a studio in London's Muswell Hill in 1898 and continued to make films there until around 1910, when he turned his focus back to instruments and military technology.