Saturday, 28 February 2015

1904: Opening of the Drill Hall, Accrington, by General Baden-Powell

Opening of the Drill Hall, Accrington, by General Baden-Powell

OK - I admit it. I only did this film because of the catchy title. In terms of innovation or cinematic technique it has nothing to offer, but I mention it here because it's an example of a type of film-making I haven't touched on yet.
The Mitchell and Kenyon film company was active in the North of England from 1897 to about 1920, and specialised in making documentary films of local events, making sure to include as many faces as possible, then develop the films the same day and screen them at a local venue in the evening, hopefully making a profit from the sale of tickets. (One of their slogans was "Local films for local people".) Mitchell and Kenyon suddenly became famous again a hundred years later, after their film archive was rediscovered, long forgotten, in the basement of a shop in Blackburn, and subsequently restored by the British Film Institute.
This film is a fairly typical example. All the film makers have done is set up the camera in a prominent position and turned the handle. It's a living.
To a modern viewer, it's a glimpse into a long gone world in which everyone wore hats and the presence of a movie camera was a big event.
Even if you're from Accrington, you're hardly likely to recognise anyone, but watch out for a cameo from the bloke who drives the fire engine in "Trumpton".

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