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directed by Annabel Hobley
UK 2006

 

In the mid-1920s, pioneering film-maker Claude Friese-Greene made a series of films during an intrepid drive from Land's End to John O'Groats in the early days of the motor car. Claude's remarkable films were shot in pioneering early colour using a process he'd invented himself at a time when the world was filmed in black & white.

In this three part series, The Lost World of Friese-Greene, presenter Dan Cruickshank traces the original route in a vintage car, tracking relatives of the people who appear in the films. Dan also shows footage to people who appeared in the films as children and are seeing themselves on film for the first time 80 years later.

Film One starts in the West Country as Dan Cruickshank uncovers radical changes in rural traditions from cider-making to stag hunting and takes a look back at holiday fun at the seaside. Film Two picks up his journey in Cirencester, travels onwards to Wales through the Midlands and North to Lancashire and the Lakes. In the final episode, he journeys through Scotland, meeting local experts and descendants of people in the films, with breathtaking scenery all the way.

This unique archive of Friese-Greene's footage, preserved and restored by the BFI, reveals many things in the UK that have changed in 80 years, as well as, surprisingly, what has remained.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Extended interviews with some of the people Dan Cruickshank encounters on his journey
• Interview with cinematographer Jack Cardiff (DOP for The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and A Matter of

DVD Release Date: May 3rd, 2006
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Comments

The BFI's 2006 release of "The Lost World of Friese-Greene" is perhaps best understood as a companion piece to another of their releases, "The Open Road". The latter consists of a series of short films shot by Claude Friese-Greene in the mid-1920s as he drove along the coast of Britain, documenting its scenic beauty and the lives of those he encountered. What separates Friese-Greene's work from other mere travelogues of the day was the fact that he used an early green-red color process that he himself invented. His films have now been lovingly restored by the BFI to look better than they ever did before. However, in this series of three hour long episodes that originally aired on BBC 4 in 2006, the affable Dan Cruickshank retraces the steps of Friese-Greene to learn more about this virtually unknown filmmaker. Along the way Cruickshank encounters descendants of the people featured in the films and even some who were originally recorded as children. All have stories to tell about Friese-Greene, and the series comes off as a charming and picaresque jaunt through the coast with even a few detective elements thrown in.

The image on the disc is divided between clips from "The Open Road" and Cruickshank's adventure. The former scenes are the best that they'll ever look and indeed, they look very good with the BFI's restoration. The image is particularly strong and sharp for film that was recorded in the 1920s. The only real problem, and it is a very minor one, with the image is that there can occasionally some ghosting or streaking of the colors with sudden and sharp movements. Yet, this is certainly a result of the original process and there was likely nothing that could have been done to eliminate it during the restoration process. The footage that was made for the television specials looks relatively strong as well and exhibits very strong colors, particularly the extraordinary greens in the landscapes. Oh, and the animation at the begging of each episode was quite charming as well.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack was certainly serviceable in this release. The dialogue was clean, clear, and free of any unwanted background noise. My only complaint about the audio is the lack of subtitles. For a viewer here in North America, on a couple of the interviews the accents were rather thick and hard to make out. A subtitle track would have taken care of the problem without any difficulty, but sadly none was included.

The extras consist mainly of about 30 minutes worth of extended interviews with the people featured on Cruickshank's journey. They're more in depth than what you seen in the episodes, but I'm not sure that you'd miss much by skipping them. Also included is an interview with cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who had the pleasure of knowing Friese-Greene.

The "Lost World of..." series now stands at three releases. While I haven't seen the other two, I can thankfully say that viewing this one made for an enjoyable experience and I look forward to checking out "The Open Road" as well. Certainly recommended for those who might have an interest in the subject matter.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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