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Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports DVD

Sagar Mitchell, James Kenyon, 1901-07

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Film Details

Directed by Sagar Mitchell, James Kenyon

Produced in 1901-07

Main Language - Silent

Countries & Regions - British Film

MovieMail's Review

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.

Graeme Hobbs on 12th July 2007
Author of 294 reviews

Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports

Film Description

Over a century ago, filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon roamed the British Isles filming the everyday lives of people at work and play. For around 70 years, 800 rolls of this early nitrate film sat in sealed barrels in the basement of a shop in Blackburn. Miraculously discovered and painstakingly restored, this now ranks as the most exciting film discovery of recent times.

Following on from the hugely successful BBC TV series, The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon and the BFI’s first DVD volume Electric Edwardians, comes this selection of sporting highlights from the Mitchell & Kenyon collection, which features the titans of professional football, cricket and rugby whilst also rediscovering the Corinthian spirit of amateur sport and leisure in Edwardian life. Liverpool, Hull, Kingston Rovers, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers all feature along with a swimming gala in North Shields, the AAA championships of 1901 and the Mold cricket controversy – an early ‘chucking’ storm with an Australian umpire at its centre.

DVD Details

Certificate: E

Publisher: BFI

Length: 108 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Format: DVD B&W

Region: 2

Released: 30th July 2007

Cat No: BFIVD738

DVD Extras

  • Commentary written by Dr Vanessa Toulmin
  • Booklet featuring an essay by Dr Vanessa Toulmin.

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Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports

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