When the Movies Began…


The latest feature to be added to the Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema web site is When the Movies Began. This is a chronology of the world’s film productions and film shows before May 1896. It was originally compiled by Stephen Herbert and published as a booklet by The Projection Box in 1994. This updated and redesigned version incorporates new research, in particular the work of Deac Rossell, and it will be regularly revised and updated. There is also a full introduction and list of references.

Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema is a biographical reference guide to 300 or so people involved in the production of motion pictures before 1901, both behind and in front of the camera. It includes a wealth of supporting resources on the subject of Victorian film (i.e. film during the time of Queen Victoria’s reign), with a growing number of special features, such as When the Movies Began.

The Birds and the Bees


Why not pop down to the National Film Theatre on London’s South Bank next Tuesday evening to see a programme of some of the less usual kind of silent films? The Birds and the Bees is a special programme of early natural history films, put together by the BFI’s curator of silent film, Bryony Dixon. Early British film history is rich in naturalist filmmakers who, decades before David Attenborough, were combining science with entertainment to prove that the movies could do more than just distract the masses with slapstick and melodrama. Filmmakers such as Oliver Pike, who specialised in recording birds in their habitat in films such as St Kilda, its People and Birds (1908); or the wonderful Percy Smith, who made stop-frame films of plant growth that could take over a year to produce, as well as meticulous studies of animal life with a touch of showmanship about them. Or what about the extraordinary J.C. ‘Bee’ Mason, war cameraman, adventurer and apiarist, whose films of his life-long hobby, such as The Bee’s Eviction (1909), are mad entertainment.

It’s on at 18.15, Tuesday June 16th in NFT2. More details from the BFI Southbank web pages.