The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

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colinr0380
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The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#1 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:23 am

The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon: Edwardian Britain on Film

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The discovery of the Peter Worden Mitchell and Kenyon collection has been described as film's equivalent of Tutankhamen's tomb. This treasure trove of 800 films has now been preserved for the nation by the British Film Institute and is the subject of a BBC television series. The extraordinary actuality footage contained in the collection provides an unparalleled social record of everyday life in early twentieth-century Britain, featuring street and transport scenes, sporting events, parades, local industries.

The discovery of actuality films commissioned by travelling exhibitors for showing at local fairgrounds, town halls and theatres, has enabled a major re-evaluation of the Mitchell and Kenyon company's contribution to film-making in the United Kingdom. For the first time a body of films (as important in their national context as Lumires' are in France or Edison's in the USA) can be researched in the context of local exhibition, dramatically increasing understanding of the evolution and development of film in its first decade.

The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon contains essays from leading historians covering film history, popular entertainment, the seaside, transport, the earliest sporting events and the social and economic context of Edwardian Britain. Together they provide a vivid commentary on an unparalleled collection.


Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland

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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. Now miraculously discovered and painstakingly restored by the BFI, 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 are two DVDs containing a new unreleased selection of films - Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland and Mitchell & Kenyon Edwardian sports.

Mitchell and Kenyon in Ireland is a unique and vivid record of Ireland at the start of the twentieth century. The Mitchell & Kenyon Collection contains some twenty-six films made in Ireland between May 1901 and December 1902 in association with three travelling film exhibitors - the North American Animated Photo Company, the Thomas Edison Animated Photo Company and the fairground showman George Green. Much of this material has been unseen for over 100 years.

Presented as 'Local Films for Local People', the films include street scenes of Dublin, Wexford and Belfast, local dignitaries attending the Cork International Exhibition, scenic routes from Cork to Blarney Castle and much more.

The DVD is programmed by Dr Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield Library, author of the BFI book Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon (2006) and editor of The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Britain on Film (BFI, 2004).

Extras:

- Commentary written by Dr Vanessa Toulmin and read by Fiona Shaw
- New musical score by Neil Brand and Gnter Buchwald, internationally renowned composers of music to accompany silent films

The DVD also contains an 18-page illustrated booklet with an introduction by Dr Vanessa Toulmin and film notes on Street Scenes, Life in Cork, the Cork Exhibition and Sport.


Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Sports

Image

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. Now miraculously discovered and painstakingly restored by the BFI, 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, come two DVDs containing a new selection of films - Mitchell & Kenyon Edwardian sports and Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland.

Mitchell & Kenyon Edwardian sports offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and learn about sporting action at the turn of the century. A remarkable selection of sporting highlights from the Mitchell & Kenyon Collection, it brings together some of the earliest surviving films (1901-7) featuring 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 football teams are all featured, alongside 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.

The DVD is programmed by Dr Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield Library, author of the BFI book Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon (2006) and editor of The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon: Edwardian Britain on Film (BFI, 2004).

Extras:

- Commentary by Dr Vanessa Toulmin, read by broadcaster Adrian Chiles
- Improvised musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne including the use of popular tunes
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:31 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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colinr0380
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The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Feb 01, 2005 6:17 am

From 1900 to 1913, filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, commissioned by touring showmen, roamed the North of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales filming the everyday lives of people at work and play. For around 70 years, 800 rolls of their early nitrate film sat in sealed barrels in the basement of a local shop in Blackburn. Miraculously discovered by a local businessman and painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute, this ranks as the most exciting film discovery of recent times.
I really want to recommend The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon. It is currently being shown in three parts, each an hour long on the BBC. The first episode was excellent and the series is coming out on DVD. I'm not usually a big fan of film clips from a past era-type programmes, mainly because the commentary to the footage usually isn't that great, but you can really tell that a lot of research has gone into this series. In the first programme at least there were a couple of instances where the film footage segues into footage of the area as it is now, and a number of people who appear in the footage have their stories told through surviving relatives. Dan Cruickshank's commentary provides a lot of background information as to what we are seeing such as the working conditions of the factory that we see workers leaving etc.

I haven't seen the next two yet (am waiting excitedly for Friday night!), but the first one at least is worth the price of the DVD for me!
The Mitchell & Kenyon Collection consists of 800 non fiction titles produced between 1900-1913 which has survived as nitrate negatives. This extraordinary actuality footage is a vivid and unparalleled social record of early 20th Century British life, featuring street and transport scenes, sporting events, parades, local industries � ordinary people in everyday situations. The geographical spread of the material encompasses Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Scotland, Ireland, the North East, Bristol and North Wales.

The bfi and University of Sheffield have formed a partnership which will combine the archiving and restoration of the films with a proactive research programme, both intended to be complete in 2004. Some 800 films need to be dated, contextualised and identified and their content revealed. The collection represents the most important recent discovery in the field of early British cinema history. It is a unique document relating to a single, regional company and in many senses is of equal national significance to the Lumiere and Gaumont archives in France and the Edison material in the USA.

Although the role of the travelling showmen in the exhibition of early film has been examined in the past decade, particular emphasis has been placed on the cinematograph show and its importance as a performance venue. Now, however, for the first time in the United Kingdom a body of films can be researched in the context of local exhibition, demonstrating direct links between commissioners, the audience and the development of the film programme. This will raise questions about how the audience and reception of these films may have directly affected the films, and what consequence this had for the evolution and development of film as a medium in the Edwardian period.

The National Fairground Archive, working closely with the bfi, will undertake to research and investigate the contextual supporting evidence within the holdings of the NFA, and the relevant local libraries, in order to provide accurate dates and venues for the commissioning and exhibitions of these films. Route books held at the National Fairground Archive reveal the date of the fair and the showmen who attended the event, and material in local newspapers often contains descriptions of the films. When combined with the visual cataloguing of the films� content by the Cataloguing Department at the bfi, this will be a preliminary analysis of the films commissioned by travelling showmen, and an evaluation on how the act of commissioning, directly influenced and ultimately affected the type of films produced from 1900 onwards. This research reveals a dynamic model of interaction and participation between the two businesses, as opposed to the more traditional view of the showmen as purely itinerant exhibitors whose role was purely that of precursors to permanent cinema exhibition. The films themselves represent vital socio-historical potential, and are without equal in this period in the United Kingdom. They will provide additional scope for study from a number of angles within the context of social and local history, entertainment, performance studies, and will be of interest to the wider non-film and academic community
From the information in the link above it also looks like the films themselves will start being released by the BFI soon:
bfi Video releases a second Mitchell & Kenyon DVD this spring. Electric Edwardians: The Films Of Mitchell & Kenyon features highlights from the Collection by theme. Extras include commentary and filmed interview with Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive; voiceover introduction written by film historian Tom Gunning, featurette on the restoration work by the National Film and Television Archive and a fully illustrated booklet.
Here's the link to the DVDBeaver review of The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon disc. It looks like it was a hit!

And also reviewed is Under The Skin. An amazing film and for me Samantha Morton's best performance so far.

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MichaelB
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#3 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:05 am

There's a fair bit of Mitchell & Kenyon on the BFI's new YouTube channel

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colinr0380
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#4 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:44 am

DVD Beaver on the Electric Edwardians disc.

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MichaelB
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#5 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:21 am


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Re: The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#6 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:12 pm

The Electric Edwardians release is not listed in the initial post?

Over the past couple of months, I have viewed a lot of the very earliest cinema (through such collections as the Edison box, The Movies Begin, Unseen Cinema, Saved From the Flames, Flicker Alley's Méliès Extravaganza, BFI's RW Paul disc, the series of "Treasures" sets, etc.) The levels of production on these sets in general are very impressive, I think. When it comes to image quality, however, Electric Edwardians is probably my favorite so far. I do not think many of the Beaver's stills do the disc justice. Viewing these short actuality films projected onto my livingroom wall, they are like windows into the past. Literally! The image on most of these films is so sharp and crisp that one can basically count the crow's feet around the eyes of the grown-ups pictured, and the milky teeth in the smiles of the street urchins that crowd the frames of many of the films. Details, way, way back in the distance are completely clear -- the writing on signs, the folds on dresses, the actions of people lost on the edges of the crowds photographed, and so on.

Quite aside from the raptures over the level of preservation (restoration?), the films are of course an incredible document of turn-of-the-century Britain. Many of the films are little more than observations of crowds -- students, workers, people gathering for various events, but, it is the way that they are gathered up in front of the camera, and basically allowed to interact with the camera, almost as if they were communicating to us from the distant past, and from beyond the grave. Everything we know, or think we know, is painted in the predominantly hard and worn faces of the workers; many of the children look marked by their hard social circumstances, but there is also the joy, and dreams, and hope to be read in the way they confront the future (as exemplified by the camera). Finally, there are a couple of films, where the camera was mounted on trams -- once in Belfast, and another time at an English waterfront, and the effect of these long, long (2-4 minutes) tracking shots through the streets are nothing short of spellbinding. It is amazing to me, how they managed to keep the camera as steady as is the case, and there is the deep, deep focus as in all the other films that reveal such a wealth of detail of the life unfolding in front of the camera. The effect is nothing short of incredible. All in all, I found these films incredibly moving -- much more so, than I had expected.

The music by In the Nursery should also be mentioned. Being fond of their neo-orchestral compositions, I was nonetheless a little leary at the prospect of them scoring these films, however, as it happened, they stripped down their sound to very basic little pieces of piano and wind instruments with the occasional sound of a fog horn or the clippity-clop of horses' hooves just audible beneath the melodies. And, I thought it worked very nicely.

One thing I did not appreciate, was the decision to hide away five shorts as an easter egg. I only found out about them from the review linked in MichaelB's post above. It would have been a shame to have missed them all together. For any other unaware viewers, the trick is to go to the "extras menu" and click on the little hand in the bottom left corner. This will pull up a menu listing the extra films. Crazy!

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Re: The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#7 Post by MichaelB » Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:31 pm

Scharphedin2 wrote:When it comes to image quality, however, Electric Edwardians is probably my favorite so far. I do not think many of the Beaver's stills do the disc justice. Viewing these short actuality films projected onto my livingroom wall, they are like windows into the past. Literally!
The crucial difference between the Mitchell & Kenyon films and most other releases from the turn of the 20th century is that the M&K transfers were largely sourced from the original negatives, which miraculously survived for long enough to be rescued and turned over to the BFI National Archive for preservation and restoration.

With other titles like Saved from the Flames, Georges Méliès and R.W. Paul, you're lucky that these films survive in any form (Méliès actually destroyed his negs), and have to make huge allowances for picture quality.

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Re: The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#8 Post by Tommaso » Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:30 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:The music by In the Nursery should also be mentioned. Being fond of their neo-orchestral compositions, I was nonetheless a little leary at the prospect of them scoring these films, however, as it happened, they stripped down their sound to very basic little pieces of piano and wind instruments with the occasional sound of a fog horn or the clippity-clop of horses' hooves just audible beneath the melodies. And, I thought it worked very nicely.
Yes, I totally agree. Apart from the outstanding image quality of the films, I guess it is the music that helps a lot to create this 'window to the past' impression that you describe. Though I really liked the piano scores on "M&K in Ireland" or the RW Paul films, these piano pieces are more like accompaniments in the usual sense of silent film music, giving a flow to the images and occasionally highlighting what's going on on the screen. The ITN score, however, seems to go beyond that by adding a certain 'dreamlike', transcendent quality which lets you totally forget that you're watching films over 100 years old; the images become part of another world more than they are parts of a past world. A similar effect is created by ITN's score for Vertov's "Man with a movie camera" and, to a lesser degree, by their score for "Hindle Wakes".
ITN have now also released their score for Dreyer's "Joan of Arc" on CD. Does anyone know whether there is a new R2 dvd of it in the making? I haven't heard the cd yet, but could imagine that their particular style would fare very well with Dreyer's film. As the cd runs 78 mins, one might of course try to simply play it along with the Criterion disc.

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Re: The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon

#9 Post by MichaelB » Tue May 24, 2011 9:05 am

The Mitchell and Kenyon collection has just been added to Unesco's UK Memory of the World Register, along with the collected output of the GPO Film Unit.

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