This film is part of Free
Unidentified Chinese Men (c.1900)
How did these Chinese gentlemen end up in a Blackburn basement?
How did these Chinese gentlemen end up in a Blackburn basement? There were many puzzles among the hundreds of rolls of Mitchell and Kenyon's films rediscovered in 1995, and this is perhaps the greatest. The subjects seem genuinely Chinese, but who filmed them, when and where? We're certain it wasn't shot by Mitchell and Kenyon. Is it China at all? Perhaps the cameraman's flying hat is a clue.
The architecture and grounds of the second building seem incongruously western, throwing doubt on the location, although western style buildings were far from unknown in early 20th century China. The film was shot on Lumière film stock, so it may be that Mitchell and Kenyon had bought, borrowed or acquired it to show along side their own. M&K certainly never visited China, but Lumière had several cameramen there from the late 1890s, which could make these some of the oldest surviving filmed images of China. If only we could be sure...