Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon
Dir. Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
On DVD 04/16/10
In the earliest years of the twentieth century, enterprising traveling showmen in the north of England hired pioneer filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon to shoot footage of local people going about their everyday activities. These films would be shown later at nearby fairgrounds, town halls and neighborhood theaters. Workers, school children, sports fans and seaside vacationers all flocked to see themselves miraculously captured on screen!
The astonishing discovery of the original Mitchell & Kenyon negatives in Blackburn, England - in a basement about to be demolished - has been described as film's equivalent of Tutankhamen's tomb. Preserved and restored by the bfi National Film and Television Archive in collaboration with the University of Sheffield National Fairground Archive and featuring a hauntingly beautiful score by In The Nursery, this treasure trove of extraordinary footage provides an unparalleled record of everyday life in the years before World War I. Mesmerizing scenes of trolley cars and crowded streets, soccer matches, temperance parades, throngs of workers leaving the factory and a myriad of simple pleasures transport us to another - lost - world. The effect is as if H.G. Wells' marvelous time machine had come to life.
The specially commissioned score for Electric Edwardians was written and performed by In The Nursery - the Sheffield-based musical project formed by twin brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone.
Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
Between 1897 and 1913 Mitchell & Kenyon were commissioned by travelling fairground showmen to make films of ordinary people going about their lives. Shot mostly across the north of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and in the days before purpose-built cinemas had emerged, these films were shown to audiences at fairgrounds, village fetes and in town halls. They were advertised as 'local films for local people' and attracted big audiences of people eager to see themselves and their family and friends on screen – for most a completely new experience. It was a lucrative business and for many film and social historians Mitchell & Kenyon are regarded as the equivalent of Internet entrepreneurs of their time.
Directed by Sagar Mitchell
Produced by Sagar Mitchell
Cinematography by Sagar Mitchell
Edited by Sagar Mitchell
Score by In the Nursery
Optional Voiceover Commentary by Dr. Vanessa Toulmin, National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield.
Filmed Interview With Vanessa Toulmin.
"Pictures of Crowd Splendour" video introduction by Tom Gunning, University of Chicago.
Featurette on the restoration of the films.
"Diving Lucy" and additional shorts by Mitchell and Kenyon.
Electric Edwardians Press Kit downloadable on DVD-Rom.