Victorians on Film

Entertainment, Innovation and Everyday Life

Victorians on Film: Entertainment, Innovation and Everyday Life brings together an essential library of rich film content from the British Film Institute (BFI) in one easily navigable platform.

Capturing a unique view of the lives of Victorians at the dawn of cinema, from workers at the factory gates to royalty and other dignitaries,these films showcase the inventiveness and artistry of the medium's pioneers in its earliest stages.

From well-known films by leading names such as Mitchell and Kenyon, to lesser-known titles, the material represents the most extensive collection of films from the era.

This must-have collection offers insight into the experimental work of early filmmakers in creating news, animation, drama, and special effects, as well as providing an invaluable exploration into how Victorians went about their day-to-day activities from their work to their leisure time.

  • The British Film Institute’s complete Victorian Film Collection showcasing the dawn of British filmmaking
  • The extraordinary collection of filmmaking pioneers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
  • Films charting the development of film technologies from the Victorian age through the Edwardian period
  • Comic film shorts, showcasing a range of innovations, as film makers experimented with illusion and editing including the famous ‘big gulp’ film where the subject ‘swallows’ the camera and camera man
  • Everyday life in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, documented via the most extensive collection of actuality films in the world
  • The leisure and sporting lives of the age captured in films of football and rugby matches, performing gymnasts, military sports days, the Cambridge and Oxford boat race, athletics, and horseracing
  • Films of Queen Victoria, on procession or at home in Balmoral, as well as other members of the royal family
  • Films documenting key moments in Britain’s imperial history, with footage of military leaders and military operations, as well as clips recreating moments of victory and defeat in the Boer War
  • Several scientific films including solar eclipses and the very first film of an x-ray.

Key data

Source archive

  • The British Film Institute (BFI)
  • Entertainment
  • Everyday life
  • Film techniques and technology
  • Leisure and sports
  • Industry and work
  • Royalty and celebrity
  • Science and engineering
  • Bryony Dixon, BFI
  • Nadja Durbach, The University of Utah
  • Joe Kember, University of Exeter
  • Tami Williams, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  • Scott Curtis, Northwestern University Doha Campus
  • Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish Studies
  • Music, Sound and Dance
  • Theatre
  • Visual Culture

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