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A Night At The Cinema In 1914 review

Opening up the BFI National Archive

By 1914, Great Britain no longer had to troop down to the local scout hut to catch a movie: purpose-built picture houses were showing shorts like these, unearthed from the vaults by the BFI to mark the centenary of WW1.

Charming and poignant, here’s everything from undercranked Gilliamesque animations by the aptly-named Lancelot Speed, to newsreels on ‘The Austrian Tragedy’ and silly skits still mired in the music hall tradition. By contrast, contemporary American serials like The Perils Of Pauline already seem way edgier and more cinematic.

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