1909: Oliver Twist

As a rule, I’ve been trying to select films that bring something new to the art of cinema, but this one is so far behind the curve it’s in danger of being lapped. The reason I include it is that it represents the last gasp of a style of film making that in 1909 had…

1908: Troubles of a Grass Widower

Now we’re getting somewhere. Max Linder’s “Troubles of a Grass Widower” is part of a silent comedy tradition that’s recognisable to a modern viewer. We have a fully developed character  – not just a random person having surreal dreams or fantastic accidents but someone we can relate to in situations we might have had to…

1907: Le Cheval Emballé

Many of the Pathé studio’s films from this period are fairy-tale or Arabian Nights adaptations – lavishly decorated studio productions, usually hand-coloured. Very pretty to look at but rather dull to watch, to a modern eye. I wanted to include one in this blog just to have the genre represented, and many of the best…

1906: Dream of a Rarebit Fiend

I passed on Edwin S Porter’s landmark 1903 film “The Great Train Robbery” to focus on the more visceral “Desperate Poaching Affray”, but just so his fans aren’t too upset, here’s his 1906 film “Dream of a Rarebit Fiend”, based on one of a series of comic strips by the great Winsor McCay. A man…

1905: Rescued by Rover

Here’s the prolific Cecil Hepworth again with one of the iconic films of the age, “Rescued by Rover”. A simple story but impressively executed – ingeniously so in fact. It’s very much a family production. A nanny, out walking the baby (played by Hepworth’s son), gets distracted by a handsome soldier, while an old beggar…

1903: Desperate Poaching Affray

Desperate Poaching Affray I’m spoilt for choice this year – 1903 gives us a whole bunch of groundbreaking early films including Edwin S. Porter’s “The Great Train Robbery”, credited with creating much of the grammar of film narrative and editing, the Sheffield Photographic Company’s “Daring Daylight Burglary”, equally inventive and a few months older, George…