The Lost World of Friese-Greene DVD
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Directed by Various (TV)
Produced in 2006
Main Language - ENGLISH
Countries & Regions - British Film
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.
Michael Brooke on 1st April 2006
Author of 137 reviews
Dan Cruickshank presents another find of astonishing early film archives, this time a series of films made in 1924-26 by Claude Friese-Greene using an early colour process. The film traces a journey by car from Land's End to John O'Groats and offers an extraordinary vision of Britain in the 1920s in colour.
Length: 177 mins
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 3rd May 2006
Cat No: BFIVD727
- More stories - Cinematographer Jack Cardiff remembers Friese-Green
- extended interviews with those featured in the series, including landscape artist Lamorna Birch and the son of legendary Cardiff footballer Hughie Ferguson.
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