The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, traveling showmen
would film local events and sometimes would exhibit the movies that
same evening. Some were grouped together by theme for later
exhibitions. Among the men who made such films were Sagar Mitchell
(1886-1952) and James Kenyon (1850-1925). In the early 1990s, a
large collection of their films -- more than 800 nitrate negatives --
was discovered in a photographic shop in Blackburn, England.
The British Film Institute (BFI) acquired the negatives and undertook
the painstaking task of preserving and restoring those films.
Additionally, researchers were consulted so that the films could be
placed in proper historical and cultural context.
Before this discovery, Mitchell & Kenyon were noted as a firm
that created minor early fictions, many revolving around the Boer War.
This new discovery, stored for generations in large barrels, allows
film historians to reevaluate the company and the filmmakers. The
collection contains numerous films that were commissioned by
fairground operators to be shown at their events or at other local
venues. Oftentimes, the movie would be shot in the morning or
afternoon and exhibited that evening, allowing those in the film
the opportunity of seeing themselves on screen.
In all some 28 hours of footage was discovered and preserved
and from that was culled a cross-section that was grouped by
subject for this DVD collection. The five major subjects are "Youth
and Education," including processions of children and university
students, "The Anglo-Boer War," including parades of soldiers and a
fleet of ships, "Workers," including shots of factory workers leaving
or entering their places of employment, "High Days and Holidays,"
including cricket matches, football games and parades, and "People
and Places," including tram rides and street scenes.
One can watch the films with just the newly composed
soundtrack by In the Nursery or with an informative commentary
track by Dr. Vanessa Toulmin. Extras on the DVD also include a few
additional shorts and an interview with Dr. Toulmin.
Rating: B +
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.