St Kilda, Britain’s Loneliest Isle (1928)
A little while ago we told you about UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme, which highlights archival objects which best represent the world’s documentary heritage. The intention of Memory of the World is to “to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination.” Among the objects on the register so far as a number of films, most of them from the silent era. They are Metropolis (1927), Lumière films, Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition (1910-1912), The Battle of the Somme (1916), The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), and the non-silent Luis Buñuel’s Los Olvidados (1950), Norman McClaren’s animation film Neighbours (1952), The Wizard of Oz (1939), the Ingmar Bergman Archives, and the John Marshall Ju/’hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection.
Now their number has grown, because today it was announced that St Kilda, Britain’s Loneliest Isle (1928), nominated by the Scottish Screen Archive at the National Library of Scotland, and The Life Story of David Lloyd George (1918), nominated by the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, are to be added to the list (to be accurate, the UK Memory of the World Register).
The Life Story of David Lloyd George (1918)
The Lfe Story of David Lloyd George (1918) will be well-known to regular readers, as it was covered in detail by a Bioscope post last year – indeed, I believe that some of the words from the Bioscope account may have helped secure the nomination, in which case we are immensely proud. The film is a biopic of the British prime minister David Lloyd George, whose production and post-production history are fascinating, because the film was suppressed (for reasons that remain mysterious to this day) and never seen by the public until its happy rediscovery in 1994. It is cultural artefact of the highest order, and an excellent film on top of that. If you’ve not had the chance to see it yet, it is available on DVD from the NSSAW, and comes highly recommended. You can view a short clip here.
St Kilda, Britain’s Loneliest Isle has also been mentioned by the Bioscope, when we reported on the Scottish Screen Archive’s outstanding video streaming site. There you can see this exceptional documentary work, which records the last days of human habitation on the remote Scottish island, as the Gaelic speaking community prepares to leave the place where humans had previously existed for 2,000 years. It is a haunting document, forming a bridge between time immemorial and the modern area that the cinematograph itself represents (the film includes a sequence where St Kildans are taken to see their first film show). It runs for 17 minutes – do watch it if you can.