Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 108 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 30 July 2007
Cat No: BFIVD738
Screen ratio 1:1.33
If you are unhappy with your purchase, you can return it to us within 30 days. More Details
Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports
Over a century ago, filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon roamed the British Isles filming the everyday lives of people at work and... Read More
In 1994, during demolition work, 800 rolls of nitrate film were found in sealed barrels in the basement of a shop in Blackburn. They turned out to be one of the most exciting finds of early film ever made, with the rolls featuring the work of the Mitchell & Kenyon film company, active between 1897-1913. Remarkably, the films were in an excellent state of preservation. Consequently, because the images we see now from them are mostly so clean and scratch free, and provide such a clear view of Edwardian life, they give the amazing sensation of turning a picturebook past into a living present. Two new collections from the Mitchell & Kenyon archive are now on DVD, Edwardian Sports and Ireland.
For anyone doubtful of the almost magical effect these films hold, I suggest watching the first film on Ireland – Ride on a Tramcar through Belfast, from 1901, which, in a beautifully clear print, gives us a sedate 5 minute ride on a horse-drawn tram through the streets of Ireland’s most prosperous city at the time. Briefly, it is the stuff of magic. Other scenes from Ireland include a tram ride through Cork, an Irish version of Lumiere’s Arrival of a Train, here at Wexford, and scenes of Wexford marketplace in 1902, showing the poverty apparent in the city at the time.
The sports collection features action and crowd scenes at numerous sporting occasions between 1901-02. Many big names familiar from our own times are present – there's a Merseyside derby from 1902 at Goodison Park (Everton won 3-1), Sheffield Utd at Bramall Lane in the same year, Bradford City's first ever game, at an undeveloped Valley Parade, and Newcastle v Liverpool in 1901 – with the advertising hoardings promoting 'Newton's Perambulators'.
There's cricket too, from Old Trafford in 1901 (with enough steam trains passing to make Henry Blofeld blow a fuse), with footage of an early ‘throwing’ controversy. Add to that scenes from the 1901 Amateur Athletics Association championships (the Americans dominate the medals), cycling races and lots of Northern Union footage, and a valuable picture of sport in the early years of the 20th century is presented.