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R. W. Paul - The Collected Films 1895-1908 [DVD]
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2010
R.W. Paul was one of the early pioneers of cinema, and certainly Britain's biggest sole contributor to modern film. Many of his short films pioneered such techniques as cutting to different scenes, and super-imposing films. So as a historical piece, this DVD is extremely important, gathering together as it does all of Paul's existing films. On here you'll see how his subjects changed from simply recording events happening around him, such as footage of horse-drawn carriages crossing Blackfriars Bridge, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, or the launching of H.M.S. Albion (the ship's plunge into the water creates a wave which destroys a jetty and washes 200 spectators into the river). Films like these are fascinating as they provide a glimpse into a world which nobody alive today can remember. However, more entertaining are Paul's films which have a story to tell, the most famous of which is 1906's 'The '?' Motorist'. This film bought Paul considerable fame as a filmmaker, with Paul drawing upon his knowledge of how to manipulate film to show a motorcar apparently drive up a building and into space, passing around planets as it does so. A shot from this film is also used on the cover of this BFI DVD. There is also the first-ever filmed version of Dicken's Christmas Carol, titled here as 'Scrooge, or Marley's Ghost'. Released for Christmas 1901, this was an ambitous film with Paul using title-cards and screen wipes illustrate the story. There are a total of 62 short films on this DVD, and though some are merely curiosities (see 'An Exciting Pillow Fight'!), they are all interesting in their own way. It's also interesting as a valuable snapshot of film in this early period, and the BFI should be praised for allowing this to be seen by a wide audience - something which, for the last 100 years, has not been easy to do.

Each film is accompanied by a simple piano soundtrack, though they also contain a commentary by Professor Ian Christie. This is especially useful to someone unfamiliar with these films, and helps to put them into context. There's also a 26-page booklet included, giving a summary of each of the films and a biography of R.W Paul himself. Due to the age and quality of many of these films, they are never going to look any better than they do here, but then no one should expect amazing clarity from film over a century old. Some films are also filoscope (flick-book), but it is right that they are included here for the sake of completion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2012
I'm a big fan of early cinema, especially British, so this DVD was a must for me, and it doesn't dissapoint. RW Paul made some truly amazing films - not just the factual ones, but the fantasy ones - 'A lively quarter day' and 'The ? Motorist' are my particular favourites and I can't still figure out how some of them were made. A great collection of early films
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2006
Another excellent and invaluable early shorts compilation from the BFI. Highlights on the disc include the macabre An Over-Incubated Baby and other great trick films such as The Magic Sword and The Haunted Curiosity Shop. I'd recommend this DVD to anyone intested in early cinema. However, collectors will be disappointed by the very badly designed sleeve - a real shame given that this label has previously produced some of the best designed discs around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2013
This has to be the ultimate way to see history in the making. Archival films of R.WE. Paul all together on one DVD. Silent films are so much more important than the rather tedious offerings on show in today's world and, this pioneer does it all. Crudely executed they may be, story lines rather weak, quality of film poor, but from before 1910 ??? The WW1 'Great War' hadn't happened yet, so give your ancestry a jolt and, see what your grandparents enthused over in their day.... excellent DVD.
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on 21 March 2014
Interesting for us as a great great uncle is on it. The rest is very good and fun to watch. You can see how filming improved over the years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2011
The complete surviving films of r.w.paul one of britains first film makers who had in muswell hill, north london the first purpose built film studio in england. Some of the films included are documentary and some are fictional flights of fancy.
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on 12 May 2015
Fantastic!
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