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Silent Britain [DVD]


Price: £8.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Silent Britain [DVD] + Piccadilly [1929] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Jun. 2006
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FIHLWC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,369 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Helen on 21 Jun. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I hadn't realised until seeing this documentary just how critics have rated our Silent history. Silent is in fact the word for it - mostly ignored. In this docu are heaps of gems of our masterly movie past that was pushed aside when American moguls took control of our cinemas, enforcing their movies as main features whilst most British moves were obliged, no matter how brilliantly made, to be shown as only second features. I often wondered when as a young person I was seeing the end of Britain's brief post-war movie successes why so many really excellent British movies were only second features and now I know why. It had nothing to do with quality, it was to do with money and the Americans had the money and control of most of our cinemas and we hadn't.

What's so strange is our indigenous critics etc also ignored our movie heritage until quite recently. It's the hard work of the British Film Institute in recovering so many great old movies from ancient worn prints that's now bringing our heritage to our attention with Hitchcock's early The Lodger being one of the most famous revivals but there are others too.

A simply fascinating docu, and a heartwarming discovery that our silent movie makers weren't inferior and a waste of celluloid but were innovators right up there with the best from other countries - Germany, France, USA, etc. I bought this sight unseen and I am so glad I did!
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94 of 95 people found the following review helpful By ICB on 21 Sept. 2007
Format: DVD
I recently started rediscovering my love of silent movies, having seen a lot in the eighties on TV, and was intrigued by this title which I saw on Amazon.

My understanding of film history was that Britain didn't seem to have a silent era legacy worth mentioning. Our silent films seemed few and far between, not breaking into wider awareness in the way Metropolis or a whole litany of Hollywood films have. So with interest I read Sweet's book 'Shepperton Babylon' (the first part of which deals with the silent era) and then got this documentary. Both have completely changed my view of the British film industry of that time. There's so much out there waiting to be seen that is likely to wow us, be it 'The Rat', 'The Informer', 'The Lodger,' 'The Constant Nymph' (if ever it's found) and so many more. It was wonderful to see clips of films i never new existed which will, i'm sure, be fascinating to anyone with an interest in the silent era.

Britain had a thriving silent movie industry complete with stars who were mobbed as much as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were, stars who's faces might adorn Times Square on giant banners when their films were bought for showing in the USA (the original Sherlock Holmes films), directors who were bold and inventive, as well as tyranical at times. And why are the antics of the Keystone Cops remembered but not the Tilly Girls?

Sadly though a staggering 80% of British silent films no longer exist and many that do languish in the BFI vaults unseen by just about anyone in the last 75 years. Only a meagre few such as 'Picadilly' (which greatly impressed Martin Scorcese) have been released on DVD.
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When it comes to silent cinema, we tend to read and watch many of the films that were shot in Hollywood/Los Angeles, California or Fort Lee, New Jersey but rarely do you hear about silent films shot in the UK.

The truth is that there are thousands of silent films that were made in Britain, while only a few hundred still survive today, many people including those in Britain are unaware of these precious films because film critics of the past in England had a disdain towards silent films and it also didn't help that the American studios literally squeezed many of the British silent films being shown in British theaters, let alone giving the chance for these films to be shown in America.

In 2006, the British Film Institute (BFI) along with BBC worked in a co-production to show how British silent films did have an importance in cinema history but also to right some of the wrongs of film critics of disallowing silent cinema and showcasing the films of yesteryear as well as the talents who have been long and forgotten.

The 88-minute documentary is hosted by BBC broadcaster and British journalist Matthew Sweet, who has done a lot to contribute to the "Oxford Companion to English Literature" but also as a film and television critic. He is also a man who is passionate about the British film business during the silent cinema years and has interviewed many of the talents from the silent era as well.

"Silent Britain" is a fantastic documentary that has a lot of archived footage from silent Britain, from topics on the three pioneers of early silent cinema from the late 1880's who were doing all they can to project moving images to the big screen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Inquisio on 10 May 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Other reviews here state the details, so, all I can add is that this dvd encompasses so much of early English silent filmic history. Examples, the acting contingent, the camera work and so on..... it has so much to offer for the expert, the novice, the interested and the arty. I have purchased a second copy for a choosy friend, he loves it as well, not much else to say !!!!
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