There has been a surge of interest in the silent film genre following the huge success of The Artist at the 2012 Academy Awards. To follow up on this we thought we would take a look at some of the different types of silent film hosted by JISC Mediahub to show you some long forgotten material that still has the power to astonish and surprise.
Gaumont Graphic Newsreel was launched in 1910 and became increasingly popular with cinema audiences who flocked to see their favourite film stars of the silent era. Newsreels were shown before the main picture and originally lasted around 5 minutes, containing four or five stories from the week’s news. In the days before the advent of television this was the only way ordinary people would be able to see moving pictures of famous individuals, historic events and news of national importance.
The public’s perceptions of royalty began to change forever once they could witness important events such as George V’s coronation at their local cinema.
There was great interest in glamorous fashion icons such as French actress Mistinguett. A short clip entitled ‘Look Girls’ features her modelling some extraordinary outfits. At one time she was the best paid female entertainer in the world.
News of Hollywood film stars was always much sought after. The following screenshot is from a newsreel entitled ‘Last Film Glimpses of Rudolph Valentino’ taken a few days before his premature death following appendicitis in 1926.
There are amazing crowd scenes to be viewed in the newsreel ‘Rudolph Valentino Lying-In-State’.
Gaumont Graphic finally ceased production in 1934 and was superceded by the production company’s sound newsreel, Gaumont British News, which is also a collection of JISC MediaHub.
The Imperial War Museum (films) Collection holds much fascinating silent footage of World War One. ‘The Battle of the Somme’ is the only British official film to have a major impact on the perception of the war, both at the time and in historical terms. Also the only official film of the war with a claim to be regarded as great art in its own right.
Watch history in action through the ETV Collection which contains silent footage of the ‘Battle of Cable Street‘. On 4 October 1936 Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists attempted to march through the Jewish area of Cable Street in the East End of London but was prevented by a combination of anti-fascist groups.
Why not explore these collections for more fascinating footage from the past. Gaumont Graphic Newsreel can be searched by date via our NewsFilm Online Service where you can also find a short history of British Cinema Newsreels.
- Visit BFI InView to find out more about silent film and social issues (to be found under ‘Early Film’ from the drop down menu under ‘Collections’)
- Learn more about the study of Newsreel at the BUFVC
- Visit TurnipNet for an overview of British Newsreels
Find out what is available on JISC MediaHub by visiting the Explore by Collection pages