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Lumière encore

Lumière data

Well, no sooner had I written that there was no website good or bad devoted to the films of the Lumière brothers, then someone quite coincidentally tells me of one – and it is superb. Catalogue Lumière is exactly what it says, a catalogue of the films made by the Lumières between 1895 and 1905.… Read More

Lumière forever

Chamonix: la mer de glace. Descente (1899)

Most true histories are untidy; early film history especially so. The first years of cinema were a complex field in which the different elements that would make up the medium were ‘invented’ at different stages, in which the many participants engaged in its creation held widely different understandings of just what the medium meant, and… Read More

David Jones and the matter of Britain

David Jones, 'Petra im Rosenhag' (1931), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff © Trustees of the David Jones Estate/Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

To Pallant House Gallery at the weekend, in Chichester – the first time I’ve been to this rather fine gallery made up of a Queen Anne house with modern extension. It’s primarily devoted to modern British art, with fine examples of Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, David Bomberg, Ivon Hitchens, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Michael Andrews,… Read More

Seasoned Bob

Bob Dylan

Last night I saw Bob Dylan. What an ordinary – yet still extraordinary – thing that is to say. When I first saw Dylan in 1978, at Earl’s Court, it was like the second coming, so utterly unlikely did it seem to most of us there that we were ever going to get a chance… Read More

The round window

The view down a gun barrel from the title sequence to Dr No

Lucifer (2014), directed by the Belgian filmmaker Gust van den Berghe, is a remarkable work of art. Loosely based on the 1654 Dutch play of the same title by Joost van den Vondel, it tells of the visitation of the Devil to a present-day Mexican village, brings sin and sorrow in his wake, leading to… Read More

Six degrees of Francis Bacon


Could there be a better idea for a website than Six Degrees of Francis Bacon? Launched in beta form this week, the site is designed to demonstrate the social network of Britain over the period 1500-1700. Created by data miners and digital humanities scholars at Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University, the site uses data… Read More

I remember # 12

An X-ray device used for shoe fitting (via

346. I remember Tich and Quackers 347. I remember Jonah Barrington, squash champion (yes, there was once a time when squash champions were memorable) 348. I remember the chimpanzees’ tea parties at London Zoo 349. I remember Pearl & Dean 350. I remember that Sony Walkmans were introduced to us all through a Police pop… Read More

What happens next?

L'enfant sauvage (1970)

All we ever do is tell stories to one another. Back in 1999 Sight and Sound magazine published a plot summary for the Blair Witch Project, as it does for all films released theatrically in the UK. Such plot summaries give the plain details of the plot of the film, as a matter of record,… Read More

Letters from Sancho

Paterson Joseph as Ignatius Sancho

It’s always fun to play that game where you choose the person from history that you would most like to meet. Of course it would be fascinating to meet Cleopatra, or Socrates, or Dante, but language problems would hamper the encounter. So then among the English-speaking I could pick from warriors, composers, thinkers and writers… Read More