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Film Details

Directed by: Various (TV) Claude Friese-Greene

Produced: 2006

Countries & Regions: United Kingdom

DVD Details

Certificate: E

Studio: British Film Institute

Length: 177 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 1 May 2006

Cat No: BFIVD727

Extras:
Languages(s): English
Interactive Menu
Scene Access
Screen ratio 1:1.78

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The Lost World of Friese-Greene

Cast: Dan Cruickshank

DVD
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Historian Dan Cruickshank presents this exploration of documentary filmmaker Claude Friese-Greene, who recorded a picture of Britain from... Read More

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Historian Dan Cruickshank presents this exploration of documentary filmmaker Claude Friese-Greene, who recorded a picture of Britain from John O’Groats to Land’s End using a pioneering colour film stock in 1924. Cruickshank recreates the trip, and comments on Friese-Greene’s rare archive footage, examining the patterns of everyday life in 1920s Britain and interviewing peope who appeared in the film as children.

Commissioned following the surprise success of last year's The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon, this new three-part BBC-BFI collaboration also features presenter Dan Cruickshank enthusiastically delving into a batch of largely unknown film footage. Most of it comes from The Open Road (1924-26), an unfinished travelogue recording a car journey from Land's End to John O'Groats via Wales and the Lake District. If this sounds less than compelling on paper, it's absolutely riveting on screen, because Claude Friese-Greene shot it using an experimental but surprisingly effective colour process whose commercial failure and associated restoration problems condemned the film to decades in the vaults of the National Film and Television Archive. Finally given a public airing, his painterly compositions bring to life a remote but nonetheless highly recognisable Britain, the passage of time underscored by dissolves to their present-day equivalent. This usually involves landscapes or buildings, but Cruickshank and his researchers have also identified many of the people, some of whom are still alive. Their stories bring the films to vivid life: a Clyde shipyard riveter framed like a Soviet poster would have been a stranger to health and safety regulations, and a Devon farmer swigs cider while the intertitles poke fun at America's Prohibition (a risky tactic given Friese-Greene's target audience and intended backers). The earlier series' jokey dramatisations have been banished this time around: instead, Cruickshank simply repeats the journey in a similar vintage vehicle, constantly feigning surprise at yet another seemingly casual encounter with someone who just happens to be a descendant of one of the film's subjects. It's another delightful blend of film, social and technological history.

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