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directed by R. W. Paul


Robert W Paul is justly celebrated as the leading pioneer of British film and one of the founders of world cinema. Concentrating first on actuality films, he soon branched out, pioneering almost every kind of film from documentary to fiction and fantasy. This unique DVD collection of 62 films, many preserved by the BFI National Archive, represents an attempt to bring together for the first time the collected output of R W Paul and his studio.

Paul produced what is arguably the first British narrative film A Soldier's Courtship (1896, now lost), and in 1898 became the first man to edit two scenes together in Come Along, Do!. With the help of former magician Walter Booth, he created elaborate fantasies in the mould of George Mlis such as The '?' Motorist (1906), in which an animated motorcar drives off into space and round the rings of Saturn.

In addition to popular comedies, dramas, and elaborate trick films, this collection contains one of only two surviving films of the disaster caused by the launch of HMS Albion; some of the first films shot in Spain, Portugal, Egypt and Sweden, including frontline reporting from the Anglo-Boer War; Paul's famous record of the 1896 Derby and extensive coverage of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee procession. These, and the numerous actuality films that Paul made, show day-to-day life in Victorian London.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 2:25:30

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.15 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


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

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
•  Commentary by film historian and author Professor Ian Christie
•  Illustrated 24-page booklet with an essay by Ian Christie and an introduction to each of the films

DVD Release Date: November 27th, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 75



The BFI has established a cottage industry of sorts reviving the works of early pioneers in the silent era. They've done it for Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, Claude Friese-Greene, and Edwin S. Porter (in the documentary Before the Nickelodeon reviewed HERE. Now, they've done it again with another often forgotten pioneer of the silent screen, RW Paul. Here the BFI presents 62 of his shorts, including documentaries, comedies, horror films, melodramas, and even some fantasy. Paul was certainly a talented filmmaker and like the other names mentioned above, deserves his work to be rediscovered and his role in the early days of the cinema to be appreciated.

Since every last film in this collection is now over a hundred years old (with the oldest clocking in at a whopping 115 years old!), there is a considerable amount of damage on all of the prints. However, I wouldn't say that any of them are unwatchable. Quite the contrary, many of them look better than other films of their age. The pictures used here are fairly indicative of the general quality of the images. The films are accompanied by Stephen Horne, using both original improvisations and popular music from the era in which they were first exhibited. The audio is clear and the music sounds very nice.

The release comes with two very informative extras. First, if you choose to watch the films continuously in chronological order, then you also have the option of listening to an audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie. The commentary discusses the life of Paul and the evolution of his work and should prove to be invaluable to anyone who wishes to better understand silent British cinema. Second, there's a 25 page illustrated booklet with an essay by Christie and a paragraph on all 62 shorts in this collection.

This is yet another wonderful silent release from the folks at the BFI, one of the handful of DVD production studios that takes the history of cinema, including its earliest roots, so seriously. For anyone that is interested in the silent era this is a must own. Highly recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery


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