This film is part of Free

My Oriental Friends, From Penang to Peking

This unique and beautiful tour of Southeast Asia and China is a treasure trove of picturesque views of Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Amateur film 1923 16 mins Silent

Overview

An oddity - this unique and beautiful tour of Southeast Asia and China wasn't actually made for the cinema. Its picturesque views of Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing were collected by director Selwyn Driver, a musical comedian by trade, for his "lecture-entertainments": illustrated talks that were "delightfully artistic, musical, poetical, human, humorous, and yet definitely cultural."

The film would have been projected as background for Driver's own repertoire of jokes, "shrewd observations", sketches, and piano interventions - and delivered, apparently, with "verve and raciness" on Britain's university and private school lecture circuit. Not that you'd have guessed it - these sombre images have an austere fascination with poverty and Oriental 'otherness' that is typical of the most serious 1920s travelogues.