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Electric Edwardians - The Lost Films of Mitchell & Kenyon (1900)

Electric Edwardians , Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Electric Edwardians
  • Directors: Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Restored
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories/Milestone Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FSME60
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,683 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Optional Voiceover Commentary by Dr. Vanessa Toulmin, National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield
  • Video interview with Dr. Toulmin
  • "Pictures of Crowd Splendour" by Tom Gunning, University of Chicago
  • Featurette on the restoration
  • "Diving Lucy" and additional shorts by Mitchell and Kenyon
  • Electric Edwardians DVD-ROM Press Kit

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the earliest years of the twentieth century, enterprising traveling showmen in the north of England hired pioneer filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon to shoot footage of local people going about their everyday activities. These films would be shown later at nearby fairgrounds, town halls and neighborhood theaters. Workers, school children, sports fans and seaside vacationers all flocked to see themselves miraculously captured on screen!

The astonishing discovery of the original Mitchell & Kenyon negatives in Blackburn, England — in a basement about to be demolished — has been described as film’s equivalent of Tutankhamen’s tomb. Preserved and restored by the bfi National Film and Television Archive in collaboration with the University of Sheffield National Fairground Archive and featuring a hauntingly beautiful score by In The Nursery, this treasure trove of extraordinary footage provides an unparalleled record of everyday life in the years before World War I. Mesmerizing scenes of trolley cars and crowded streets, soccer matches, temperance parades, throngs of workers leaving the factory and a myriad of simple pleasures transport us to another — lost — world. The effect is as if H.G. Wells’ marvelous time machine had come to life.

Originally aired as part of a British TV series about British Primitives, The Lost Films of Mitchell & Kenyon have been edited onto a DVD titled Electric Edwardians. This recently unearthed documentary footage provides a spooky glimpse into life during Britian’s Victorian Industrial Age. Filmed between 1900-1913 by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon for traveling cinema tours, several short movies constitute each over-arching, topically-titled film: "Youth and Education," "The Anglo-Boer War," "Workers," "High Days and Holidays," and "People and Places." In "People and Places," one rides past the obsolete Horse Ambulance shop. In "High Days and Holidays," women sporting elaborate, lacy hats march down cobblestone streets for a parade, defunct carousels spin kids around, and the Blackpool Victoria Pier is packed with people. In "Workers," Dickensian boys wander the streets in berets, and in one affecting segment, 20,000 workers file into a factory. The films of Eadward Muybridge, or of French Lumiere, George Méliés, provide similar fascinating looks into early cinema, but watching this documentary footage conjures up ghosts, as does Carnival of Souls. Music accompaniment by In The Nursery adds to the spirited ambience. These silent films manage to speak volumes about their subjects. —Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, fascinating, real-life time travel July 16, 2006
If you have any interest at all in early cinema OR the edwardian period(and in that latter class I include people like myself--artists, costumers, reenactors, buffs), then this DVD is an absolute must. I'd never heard of the early silent films of Mitchell & Kenyon, but a New York Times mention of the new release of this collection made me order it the same day.

These are short documentary films made in industrial towns in England and Belfast in 1900-1910. They were shot and (hard to believe) shown on the same day in special shows, some of which attracted thousands of people hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves and their friends on screen: promenading on a pier, riding incredible contraptions at a Whitsuntide holiday fair, or hanging around one of the huge factories that employed so many men, women and children. If this sounds boring--far from it: what you see are gorgeous, sharp prints of people behaving naturally in a time totally lost to our own. It's obvious that different clothes aside men and women haven't changed much since 1900. There's little prim and proper or stiff behavior here.

Best of all for me there are often loads of kids in front of the camera. It's touching and charming to see boys and girls dressed like E. Nesbit's "Railway Children", but laughing, making faces, goofing around, pushing each other and generally behaving exactly as kids do in 2006...all of them long, long dead, but fully alive via the camera in a way a still photograph could never show. Truly a form of time travel, like discovering your own relatives' home movies of over a hundred years ago. Well worth adding to your library, the sort of thing one can pull out over and over and amaze others with.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fleeting glimpses of a long-gone world December 3, 2006
The multitude of short films presented on this disc are ones that the viewer can just watch over and over again. With so much going on, one can literally watch them scores of times and catch something new every time. Short as they are, I love these films of everyday people and things from the 1890s and early and mid-Aughts. The films on this collection in particular span the years 1900 to 1906, covering the early Edwardian period (and the very end of the Victorian era, as Queen Victoria died in 1901). Unlike the films produced by Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers, however, Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon actively encouraged these people they were filming to interact with the camera. The majority of the people in these films were from the working masses (sadly, quite a few of them were child laborers), the main audience for films in the medium's infancy, and they got a real kick out of seeing themselves onscreen. In many instances, these films were shown the very day they were shot, sometimes under 4 hours afterwards. Watching these films is like a time capsule, what with the horse-drawn transportation, early automobiles, clothing styles, store signs, and early amusement parks. It's also haunting to realise that all of the people in these films (but for maybe a few very young children here and there) are long dead, and that many of these little boys and teenage boys would, not that many years down the road, be sacrified on the altar of WWI, capturing this lost generation before their world changed forever. One also can't help but wonder what these people's hopes and dreams were, what went on in their lives after they stopped waving at the cameras and went home, what it was really like to live in that long-ago world. Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing look back in time September 1, 2006
By John
Before viewing the actual films, I would suggest watching the brief documentary about the restoration work. Although the films presented on the DVD were prepared from the original negatives, seeing what the restoration team actually had to work with might temper your expectations a bit, and make you more forgiving for those films that are less than perfect and show signs of deterioration. After all, the reels of negatives were kept in a basement for a century.

Having said that, most of the films here are the clearest, most detailed moving images I have ever seen from that time. While films from that era are not that uncommon, most of what we see today come from prints that are either worn and battered, or several generations removed from the original negatives, or both. Since these films were created from the original negatives, they retain the detail and clarity that audiences saw when they were originally shown (some of that, of course, is the result of restoration work).

What makes these films even more interesting is that many of those pictured are interacting with the camera, so it almost seems that they are interacting with us over the space of a century. It's also fascinating to think that although everything about that period seems so far in the distant past, there are many people born in that era who are still alive today. It's not as far away as we might think.

This is definitely worth purchasing for those who have an interest in history or the early years of film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Wonderful February 20, 2007
The soundtrack alone is worth purchasing this DVD for! The music by In the Nursery is so lovely that I find myself sometimes putting this DVD on when I am cooking or cleaning, so I can hear the beautiful music and then visit with "old friends" when I pop in and out of the living room--I find it very soothing. I highly recommend this mesmerizing look back at the "regular people" from the turn of the century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Travel is Possible
Electric Edwardians is an astounding collection of short (1-5 minute) films taken of daily life, of people on the street as the trolley goes by, people riding rides at a carnival,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Samantha Glasser
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
Brilliant directing and editing. The music is perfect. Moving images of four generations before us.It is like looking at early photographs of lives and life long past.
Published 9 months ago by John F. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Look Back in Time
These films are an incredible gift to the 21st century observer. The viewer feels transported back to the 1900s as through a time machine to see soccer, rugby, and cricket matches;... Read more
Published on December 8, 2010 by Toad
5.0 out of 5 stars La Belle Époque
This is a fantastic compilation of old film reels shot around 1900. It's just totally mesmerizing to see people from a radically different era going about their lives. Read more
Published on March 8, 2009 by Gerrit C. Kockx
5.0 out of 5 stars The Past is Alive
This was just a great look at the way people were in the past. When you see the embarrasing smiles that some of them have while peering at the camera, it is a bit like people... Read more
Published on August 18, 2008 by Screaming Nurse
4.0 out of 5 stars Like going into a time machine
This is a really fascinating piece of cinematic history from over 100 years ago. Of course I knew there was experimentation going on at that time, but I had no idea the quality of... Read more
Published on July 14, 2008 by J. Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars The Visual History Find Of The Century!
When I first heard of this DVD and ongoing the Electric Edwardians project I thought it couldn't possibly be all that I was told it was: but it is everything I read of it and more. Read more
Published on September 24, 2007 by Dai-keag-ity
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment
Fascinating video but, sadly, TERRIBLE PRODUCTION QUALITY IN MAKING THE DVD. I bought two and both were scratched and damaged and wouldn't play properly. Returned them for refunds.
Published on January 3, 2007 by Fredric Dicker
5.0 out of 5 stars Film: The One True Time Machine.
I have a been a fan of silent films for over 40 years after seeing HAROLD LLOYD"S WORLD OF COMEDY in 1962 and after reading Kevin Brownlow's THE PARADE'S GONE BY shortly... Read more
Published on December 8, 2006 by Chip Kaufmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating look at a world long gone
The past truly is a foreign country. So often, the early newsreels in extant focus on the luminaries of the period at ceremonies or at play. Read more
Published on August 28, 2006 by C. Willett
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