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'London In 1927' Video Shows Beautiful Color Images Filmed By Pioneering Filmmaker

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British Film Institute
British Film Institute

This video, titled "London in 1927," is nothing short of exquisite.

Shot by English cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene at the tail end of an 840-mile road trip through 1920s England, and scored with emotional music by English pop band Jonquil and French composer Yann Tiersen, the video is a gorgeous preservation of English urban life at the time.

Friese-Greene, who had been filming English country life on his trip for a silent travelogue film called "The Open Road," returned to London in 1926 to turn his camera on his own hometown, a bustling, majestic city sunk deep in economic depression.

Yet the images he captured show little of England's high unemployment and stagnant economy. Instead, the film (one of the first color films ever), gives us a glimpse at breathtaking images of the metropolis: The country's first double-decker motor buses move slowly across London Bridge; young women stroll through a sunlit Hyde Park; throngs of men, many of whom had likely fought in the trenches of the Western Front a decade earlier, crowd Petticoat Lane.

Part of what is so remarkable about the film is how people don't appear to be camera shy.

Friese-Greene made "The Open Road" largely as a way of marketing a new colored film technique he and his father had invented to Hollywood. But his efforts to do so failed.

As the British Film Institute explains:

[Friese-Greene] crossed the Atlantic with the aim of capturing the US market, only to find his work outclassed by the technically superior two-strip Technicolor process. Following that disappointment, after a few trade screenings in 1925 The Open Road was abandoned, and after its creator's death the footage was donated to the National Film and Television Archive.

Hopefully, with the help of Vimeo and YouTube, Friese-Greene's efforts will live for eternity.

(Hat tip, Tim Sparke via Reddit; props to the British Film Institute for restoring Friese-Greene's film)

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Around the Web

Video: Rare colour footage of London in 1927 surfaces online

Old Color Footage Shows What London Looked Like Back in 1927 - PetaPixel

LiveLeak.com - Vintage Colour film of 1927 London - Extremely Rare -

Color film of 1927 London - Boing Boing

The Open Road London (1927) - YouTube

London in 1927 on Vimeo