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Customer Review

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection of films, 19 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: R. W. Paul - The Collected Films 1895-1908 [DVD] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Feb 2011, 09:28:35 GMT
R Lane says:
A good, comprehensive review, with one serious reservation. How anyone can describe an incident which resulted in 39 people being drowned as "amusing" beggars belief. I suggest you read the book "Iron in the Blood" for the story of the tragedy and how it affected the local community.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2011, 18:46:28 GMT
T Everson says:
I can see your point, I had no idea anyone was drowned, just thought they'd been washed into the harbour. Review edited, thanks for the feedback.
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T Everson
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Location: Shropshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 163,376