ELECTRIC EDWARDIANS: THE LOST FILMS OF MITCHELL & KENYON (director/writer: Sagar Mitchell & James Kenyon; music: In The Nursery; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; Milestone Films; 2006)
“A documentary of immense historical importance.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A documentary of immense historical importance and just plain fascination that reaches beyond the film buff. The discovery in 1994 in a basement of a photographer’s shop about to be demolished of the original Sagar Mitchell & James Kenyon negatives in Blackburn, England, stored in two sealed barrels, was preserved and restored by the British Film Institute (bfi) National Film and Television Archive in collaboration with the University of Sheffield National Fairground Archive in 2000. It comes with a wonderful score by In The Nursery. The exceptional footage provides a rare look of everyday life in the years between 1900 and 1913 during the Edwardian period. The thirty short films with titles such as “Workers” and “High Days and Holidays,”are taken from 28 hours of footage. Early filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon were commissioned by traveling showmen to make movies of ordinary people at work and at play and of important events. Most of the films took place in the North of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They were usually immediately screened in town halls, neighborhood theaters, village halls and local fairs. They were advertised as local films for local people, and were popular because they gave the people a chance to see themselves on the screen. The film provides an eye-opening window into the past, showing life before World War One. There are school children doing physical exercises, military parades, a university march of graduates in Birmingham, Boer War soldiers honored, a flotilla of torpedo boats passing in review, scores of workers entering factories, a Catholic procession in Halifax, holiday celebrations, soccer and rugby matches, trolley cars on the crowded streets of Glasgow and Manchester, and the unveiling of a statue for Queen Victoria in Piccadilly square. It has a mesmerizing effect of transporting us back to a lost world. Also, it’s as historically important as those early Lumiere and Edison films.
REVIEWED ON 6/18/2006 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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