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The Victorian Film Weekender

May 2019

Discover an adventurous, experimental side to our British history through a stunning collection of archive film, discussions and salons.

Introduction by silent film curator Bryony Dixon


Talks and events

On display


“It brings the past to the present and enables the present to be handed down to the future”
RH Mere ‘The Wonders of the Biograph’ - Pearson’s Magazine 1899

Britain has a film legacy to be proud of, but it has been difficult for people to see these early works, until now. The BFI National Archive’s entire collection of British Victorian film (1895-1901) has been digitised and is available to all. More than 500 titles have been transferred from the best available film sources, and with the pre-1901 titles from Mitchell & Kenyon this makes well over 700 extant films, showing the incredible range and inventiveness of our dynamic and youthful pioneers (all in their twenties and thirties). They experimented greatly with the new medium during these first five years, creating news, animation, drama and fantasy, sometimes in colour or with sound. Crucially, they recorded the world of the late Victorians themselves – not the stiff, buttoned-up, austere figures of the photographs but laughing, moving people, quite a lot like us.

Digitisation funded by the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage programme and the National Lottery.

Bryony Dixon


See a TV preview of Victorian Sensations, plus free exhibition in the Mezzanine gallery, and a families’ TV preview of Horrible Histories, plus workshops.

The BFI’s Victorian collection can be seen free on BFI Player from 13 May.

National Lottery Heritage Fund


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