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Rough Sea at Dover

Waves crash onto a jetty on the Kentish shoreline in one of Britain's earliest surviving films

Non-Fiction 1895 Silent


One of the very oldest surviving British films, Rough Sea at Dover was shot in 1895 and intended for exhibition in peephole kinetoscopes - an early type of film exhibition device which allowed one person at a time to watch moving images through a peephole in its cabinet. Birt Acres, a professional photographer, shot the film with a camera designed and built by RW Paul, based on Thomas Edison's invention (Paul took advantage of Edison's failure to copyright his kinetoscope in Britain).

The film received its premiere (or, to be strictly accurate, its projected premiere in front of an audience) on 14 January 1896 at the Royal Photographic Society in Hanover Street, London - the first public film screening in Britain, a month after the Lumière Brothers showed their films in Paris. It seems to have been a success, as projected screenings were subsequently a regular feature of RPS meetings.