Just as digital is fast replacing 35mm cellulose film on our big screens, and with the revival of 3D, there has been a countervailing rise in interest in early film. 2011 saw the enormous success of The Artist, and Martin Scorsese’s wonderful homage to early movie pioneer Georges Méliès: Hugo. Recent television documentaries have also highlighted how early film can shine a light on how people lived a century or so ago.
But not all early films made for the cinema featured well-known movie stars. Special occasions such as carnivals or grand openings were filmed for an “exclusive release” to be screened at the local cinema following the event, hoping to draw in crowds who couldn’t wait to see their big moment on the silver screen. So, in line with this renewed interest, as well as Yorkshire’s connection to Louis Le Prince, James Bamforth, and other pioneers of early filmmaking, we are featuring four films from the many made in the opening decades of the twentieth century, which are now held in our collections.
We start off with the entire town coming out for the Opening of Ossett Town Hall in 1908, followed by the Gawthorpe Maypole Festival of 1914, with plenty of really exceptional Maypole dancing on display. Then there are some fascinating scenes and comic antics at the Stanley and District Hospital Carnival of 1927, and, lastly, a brief look at the usherettes and other workers at Doncaster Cinema in 1931.
If these films have piqued your interest, here are some more to explore:
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