Just a Brixton shop girl

The first feature film that Buster Keaton directed, The Three Ages, is not perhaps as familiar as it should be. A comic history of love in prehistoric, Roman and modern times, it has Keaton fighting his rival, Wallace Beery, over a girl and winning her against the odds each time. Allegedly parodying Intolerance, it isRead More

Time travel

Currently running at the Bruce Castle Museum in Haringey, north London, from April to July 2019, is a small exhibition on local film pioneer Robert Paul (1869-1943). Entitled Animatograph! How cinema was born in Haringey it traces the one small corner of the achievements of a man who, looking back on his life might haveRead More

Big

It was back in 1992, when an envelope turned up on my desk at the BFI. It came from the Nederlands Filmmuseum (now EYE Filmmuseum), and contained a number of frame stills of very early films that they were preserving. They wanted help in identifying them. They were marvellous, intriguing, baffling images. There were scenesRead More

Now in paperback

I’m delighted to be able to report that my 2013 book, Charles Urban: Pioneering the Non-Fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897-1925, is now available in paperback, from University of Exeter Press. Previously available in hardback at a price best suited to the specialist library market, or as an e-book (has anyone purchase Urban theRead More

Discovering Kinemacolor

Kinemacolor was the world’s first successful natural colour motion picture system. It was preceded by some trial colour systems that did not work in practice, and it competed against artificial systems which painted colours onto film stock. Kinemacolor was the first system successfully to achieve one of the primary goals of the pioneers of motionRead More

Playing dead

Last weekend I sat through six hours and thirty-seven minutes of of Les Misérables (France 1925), the longest film I’ve ever experienced at a single sitting. It was shown at the Barbican in London, two comfort breaks and a supper break along the way. Neil Brand provided the live piano score, as he had withRead More

Lost colours

I’ve been adding more images to my Flickr pages reflecting the works of Charles Urban. Having started with pictures from his 1903 catalogue We put the World Before You, I’ve turned to another treasure among his catalogues, the Catalogue of Kinemacolor Film Subjects (1912). Copies of this catalogue are rarer than hen’s teeth, and I’mRead More