Birt Acres on CD

It is perhaps inevitable, given the different trajectories of the twin pioneers of British film, Birt Acres and Robert Paul, that while the latter gets the deluxe DVD treatment from the BFI (see previous post) with book to follow, his one-time partner and later bitter rival Acres has his biography published on CD from a small publisher for the interest of the select few. While Paul became a rich and successful man, noted in all film histories, Acres’ name remains little known, his work unfamiliar even to specialists in the field. Frontiersman to Film-maker: The Biography of Film Pioneer Birt Acres, FRPS, FRMetS 1854-1918, published by The Projection Box, is worth checking out by anyone interested in the earliest years of filmmaking, and in seeing how family history can be used to humanise people from this remote period of film history. The biography is written by Alan Birt Acres, his grandson, and tells the story of the man who was the first person to take and project a 35mm film in the UK. Not all of it stands up to rigorous historical enquiry, but it conjures up a credible picture of the man, is beautifully illustrated, and offers plenty of leads for those keen to research further the still mysterious roots of filmmaking in the 1890s.

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