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Electric Edwardians - The Films of Mitchell and Kenyon  [DVD]
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The Films of Mitchell and Kenyon
Probably the most exciting film discovery of recent times, the films of Mitchell and Kenyon were commissioned by travelling exhibitors at the dawn of the twentieth century for screening in town halls, at village fêtes or local fairs. Advertised as 'local films for local people', the audience paid to see their neighbours, children, family and themselves on the screen, glimpsed at local football matches, leaving work, marching in civic processions or enjoying the annual works holidays.
The hugely successful BBC TV series The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon (also out on BFI Video) introduced audiences to these miraculous views of the past. For the first time there is now the opportunity to explore the Collection in greater depth.
The material on this DVD is taken from 28 hours of footage of scenes of everyday life and represents a cross-section of the subjects covered in the Collection. From factory gates to football matches, the leaving of Liverpool to the leaving of work, the workers on holiday and at play, this material provides an unparalleled opportunity to see the world through the eyes of the working communities of the time. The films of Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon take us on a tour of everyday life in Edwardian Britain.
This DVD features 35 items in five sections: Youth and Education, The Anglo-Boer War, Workers, High Days and Holidays, People and Places as well as five additional 'hidden' items. It also includes a specially commissioned score by Sheffield-based duo In The Nursery.
- Filmed interview and optional voiceover commentary by Dr Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive
- Voiceover introduction written by distinguished film historian Tom Gunning and read by actor Paul McGann
- Featurette on the restoration work by the BFI National Film and Television Archive
- Fully illustrated booklet providing further information on the programme (written by Dr Vanessa Toulmin)
UK | 1900 -1906 | black & white | silent with music | 85 minutes + 43 minutes extra material | optional hard-of-hearing subtitles throughout | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Region 0 PAL DVD
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Top Customer Reviews
Also of note are the extras, it was amazing to see the Barrow in Furness (my hometown) film of the Jute and Flax Works... I wish they had included the shipyard gate scene that we saw snippets of in the BBC documentary... I really hope they make this available somehow.. its part of my heritage as an ex plater/shipwright! :-)
Vanessas voiceover really helps with providing some context to the clips and the music is nice in a bit of Steve Reich/Philip Glass way.
On the other hand, the rather overly grandiose and waffly academic tone over the extras section (recited by Paul McGann) doesn't add anything at all. I'd have loved to have known more about the clips themselves.
But overall this is a wonderful slice of UK history from 100 years ago. Lets hope more get released in the future... especially the shipyard scenes! :-)
This collection took me completely by surprise as 1) I was not at all familiar with the films of Mitchell & Kenyon and 2) the quality of these almost lost films was truly extraordinary. Not just the visual look of the films but the life from a century ago that they capture. The motion picture is the only true time machine that Man has come up with so far. Seeing these ordinary people doing ordinary things really makes you feel as if you are there even though you are seeing living, breathing people who are long dead and a way of life that has long vanished. For that reason alone this collection of short films and others like them (Edison, the Lumiere Brothers) are worth their weight in gold and then some. A hearty thanks to the British Film Institute for releasing this set and all the extras it contains.
Dr. Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield identified and researched over 28 hours of footage and presents the best clips from the footage from 1900-1905 in this DVD release of "Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon".
According to Dr. Toulmin, "The films on this DVD have been selected to illustrate life in the United Kingdom in the period leading up to the Great War, the so-called "Gilded Age", when the forces of modernity were apparent in transport, civic and urban planning and the growth of the consumer society."
"Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon" is presented in 1:33:1 and is in black and white. BFI has done a remarkable job in restoring these films. The picture quality of some of these films that are nearly 110-years-old are fantastic. It's important to note that the PQ is pristine and devoid of scratches and any problems but considering how these older films look, especially over a 110-years later, I'm impressed.
There is only one film that didn't turn out that well and it was "Burnley vs. Manchester United" from 1902. This one has plenty of fading and scratches but is still visible. This is a DVD release and so, you will see combing but it's definitely not noticeable unless you really look for it. But all the other footage and its clarity are absolutely wonderful. You can tell that the BFI really put a lot of passion, a lot of time into restoring the films of Mitchell & Kenyon.Read more ›
The films themselves are remarkable, especially if you know any of the locations in and around Lancashire or if you are interested in Edwardian history.
The music by In the Nursery fits very well in my view. At the theatre in Melbourne I often forgot that they were performing some new music over the old images. The sounds seemed to blend with the images almost as if they were made together.
The only minor disadvantage is that although the script of this DVD is fantastic, I didn't find the voiceover itself very clear at times (e.g. "Cafflic" = Catholic, "Bowel Jumping" = Barrel Jumping, "Mansha" = Manchester) and this detracts a little from the very worthwhile things being said. I must stress that this isn't a criticism of the accent, merely the diction of the narrator.
Summary: Get this DVD if having the films organised by theme is the most important thing for you. Get "The Lost World Of..." if volume of footage is more important. Get "Edwardian Sports" if you want one theme dealt with in depth and quality. All three are fascinating in different ways.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating look at this period - change the clothes and it could almost be ourselves we are looking at. Item arrived in good time and in excellent condition. Read morePublished 2 months ago by booklover
interesting film from the early days of film the harshness of life at the end of the nineteenth century for the working classesPublished 5 months ago by dvd critic
We have to thank the individuals who found and saved these films for the nation and the BFI for undertaking such a dedicated and painstaking restoration of the clips featured... Read morePublished 16 months ago by WOOLLY MAMMOTH