It has been terrific sharing our collection with you over the last five years. We do hope you’ve enjoyed these blog posts (if you haven’t, we can only apologise) and that you’ll follow us to our new home. Our blog is leaving WordPress and will now be hosted on the main British Pathé website. You’ll find our favourite past blog posts up there too. And, just like with WordPress, you can enter your email address to continue getting new posts sent straight to your inbox.
Do let us know what you think of the new blog and the sort of posts you want to read. You can get in touch by emailing email@example.com, leaving a comment beneath this post, or connecting with us via FacebookTwitter.
Our very best wishes,
British Pathé is considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world and is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivalled in their historical and cultural significance. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage from around the globe of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, science and culture. The entire archive is available to view online for free via the British Pathé website and YouTube channel.
“The Railway Man” is a new feature film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It follows the true story of Eric Lomax, a POW forced to build the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. British Pathé has coverage of that railway and of other events from the life of Firth’s character.
There is a film from 1945 of the railway itself, known as the “Railway of Death”, which was not used in any newsreels, and is sadly silent, but is nevertheless interesting to watch (the film can be viewed here). Lomax was forced to build the railway after leaving Changi Prison, for which there is also footage in the archive. The reel, from the liberation of the prison in 1945, can be found in this collection.
Also included is coverage of the war in Singapore during 1942, for it was after that country’s surrender that Lomax was captured by the Japanese.
“The Railway Man”, based on Lomax’s autobiographical account, is released in the UK today.
Click here for British Pathé’s collection of films related to “The Railway Man”.
There’s an interesting film in the archive concerning the production of television commercials by Associated British-Pathé (as the company was known from 1933 to 1958). It is introduced by McDonald Hobley, better known for his work with the BBC, who takes the audience – in this case, prospective clients – on a tour of Pathé’s Wardour Street studio, the newsreel archive, and the history of the company. This presentation, entitled Introducing Ourselves, was intended to show advertisers the good work that Pathé could do on television commercials, a new media they had begun to exploit only eighteen months previously (circa 1954).
As Hobley’s presentation reveals, Pathé produced about two hundred commercials a year and some of them are included in the film as a showreel. Hobley tries to limit expectations of the selection, not terribly convincingly, by describing the choice as “random…Not necessarily the best that we have produced, but we have tried to limit our selection to those which offer the types of production which we feel will appeal to you – the advertisers – in this area.”
Some of the ads are really quite entertaining and worth a watch, if you can stomach twenty-five minutes of what we’re now used to just fast-forwarding through. The showreel begins with Dunlop Tubeless Tyres, then moves on to: Max Factor’s Top Secret hair spray, Dunkies doughnuts, Guards Trousers, Amami Wave Set, Hiltone, Mum antiperspirant, Brylcreem, Disprin, Twinings Teas, Maxwell House coffee, Black & Decker tools, another Maxwell House ad, Burtons trousers, Hi Fi Lipstick from Max Factor, Mac Fisheries, Blackstone Opticians, Electrolux vacuum, Fred Fearnley Ltd. Scooters and Motorcycles, Scentinel Quiff air freshener, D.D.D., Dinneford’s, Setlers, Fray Bentos, an ad for bread, Bristow’s Hair Tonic, Tide detergent, Wm Younger’s Beer, another Fray Bentos commercial, Heinz, Brylcreem again, Peter Robinson, another for Dunlop, Huntley and Palmers, M & B Bitter, Tide, and Esso Extra.
What’s somewhat odd is that there appears to be some additional later footage tacked onto the end of the presentation. This dates from the 1970s, and must have been added to the film when the archive was under EMI ownership. These are a trailer for Love Story, starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal and a “rather fab” Chrysler Sunbeam ad from 1978.
Introducing Ourselves is valuable for its enticing glimpse behind the scenes of Pathé in the 1950s, the way in which the newsreel archive has by then already been deemed of historical significance worthy of preservation, and for including the only – at least in our collection – examples of Pathé’s commercial work, often forgotten due to the organisation’s usual focus on cinema news and theatrical films.
Watch Hobley’s introduction and behind-the-scenes footage in Part Onehere.
Watch the various commercials in Part Two of the presentation here.
The British Pathé archive holds nearly 90,000 individual clips. Most of the descriptions you’ll see on the website were taken from handwritten notes, composed either by the cameramen at the time of filming or by former archivists decades ago. The notes were all fed into a computer database at the beginning of the new millennium. Some amendments were made at that time, and steadily since, but there is still much work to be done.
Due to the sheer number of films in the collection, there are a great many that our staff members will never have seen and perhaps never will. This means that we need the help of the public to ensure that the information displayed is accurate. We’ve been fortunate to receive a great many emails over the last few years with some really terrific and helpful corrections to the descriptions, but the volume of them means that we just can’t keep up with all of the necessary changes. In fact, we currently have a backlog of about five thousand!
We therefore launched a comment facility when our new website went live and we’ve just updated the system to make things easier for you. It allows any registered user to leave a comment beneath a clip (to register, just click “join” in the top right-hand corner – It takes a couple of seconds and is completely free of charge). We’re able to monitor all of the comments made, so eventually we’ll be able to correct the descriptions based on what you’ve shared – and, in the meantime, at least all of that information will be available for viewers in the comments section.
We want your help identifying dates, locations, people and events throughout the entire archive. But, just to get you going, we’re making a specific request for information about these films from the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
British Pathé only has a few clips from that conflict and we’re unclear about many of the details. If you know the dates, locations, types of tank and armoured vehicle, information about the troops, etc., do please leave a comment beneath the relevant clip.
We are very keen to make our archive as informative and comprehensive as possible. The details that you provide will be of use to future generations of historians, researchers, programme-makers, and members of the general public. Thank you for your help!
For British Pathé’s collection of Yom Kippur material, click here.
For an interview with Moshe Dayan from around the same time, click here.
Last night, the BBC aired a special edition of its popular Countryfile series, guest-edited by Prince Charles. Reviews today have been good and it seems there is agreement that the Prince came out of the programme very well. Do watch the episode on iPlayer if you get a chance (link).
If you saw the programme, you’ll remember that Prince Charles was shown some archive footage of his time at Balmoral in his youth to stir up some memories.
The footage was from a British Pathé film, “Balmoral Holiday” (1957), which can be viewed in full here. Some additional clips shown to the Prince came from these cuts from a 1955 piece “Royal Family On Holiday”. The completed film can be seen too, here.
The “delightfully informal” footage shows Charles and his family enjoying the countryside, feeding the animals, and spending some time with each other away from their tiresome ceremonial duties.
It was the 85th Academy Awards last night! The winners were all worthy, Daniel Day Lewis was charming as usual, everyone was impeccably dressed, and the great William Shatner made an extended appearance. We stayed up all night as usual, and (as with every year) we regret it. It’s never quite as fun as we think it’ll be, especially when Steve Martin is absent. Martin was, for us anyway, the standout host of recent Oscar times. Seth Macfarlane was okay, but check out this Martin monologue from the official Oscars YouTube channel:
And with Alec Baldwin on Martin’s third appearance:
Disagree with us? Leave us a comment below!
But if, like us, you’re nostalgic for earlier times, you can see highlights from past ceremonies in the British Pathé archive via this link.
For our 1967 Oscar-nominated Documentary, “See You At The Pillar”, click here
In our opinion, this past year has been a triumph for modern cinema and, as usual, the whole of Hollywood will assemble on 24th February 2013 to celebrate its success.
British Pathé has some footage of earlier ceremonies from the late 1940s, the 1950s, and 1960s. You can view them all here.
The 85th Academy Awards are set to be an exciting celebration and it will be interesting to see who scoops the awards this year. We’ve listed all of the nominees below, with links to their imdb profiles. We’ve also scattered a few stills from our collection. Just click on them to be taken to our list of Oscar films.
We also have an Oscar-nominated film of our own that you can watch. The travelogue “See You At The Pillar” was nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short category in 1967. Watch it here.
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best supporting actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best supporting actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Best original screenplay
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins Flight
Michael Haneke, Amour
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best adapted screenplay
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio, Argo
Best foreign film
Amour – Austria Kon-Tiki – Norway No – Chile A Royal Affair – Denmark War Witch – Canada
5 Broken Cameras The Gatekeepers How to Survive a Plague The Invisible War Searching for Sugar Man
Best documentary short
Inocente Kings Point Mondays at Racine Open Heart Redemption
Brave: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman Frankenweenie: Tim Burton ParaNorman: Sam Fell, Chris Butler The Pirates! Band of Misfits / In an Adventure with Scientists, Peter Lord Wreck it Ralph, Rich Moore
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey Django Unchained, Robert Richardson Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers, Silver Linings Playbook
William Goldenberg, Argo
Michael Kahn, Lincoln
Tim Squyres, Life of Pi
Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg, Zero Dark Thirty
Best sound editing
Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, Argo
Wylie Stateman: Django Unchained
Drew Kunin, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton, Ron Bartlett, D. M. Hemphill: Life of Pi
Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers: Skyfall
Paul N.J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty
Best sound mixing
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin, Life of Pi
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson,
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes, Les Miserables
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson, Skyfall
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins, Lincoln
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia, Argo
Best make up and hair
Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger: Hitchcock
Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lisa Westcott, Les Miserables
Best original score
Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat, Argo
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
John Williams, Lincoln
Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best original song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables
Best production design
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer: Anna Karenina
Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson: Les Miserables
David Gropman, Anna Pinnock: Life of Pi
Rick Carter, Jim Erickson: Lincoln
Best visual effects
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson, Snow White and the Huntsman
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick, Avengers Assemble
Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, Trevor Wood, Paul Butterworth: Prometheus
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer: Life of Pi
Best costume design
Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Paco Delgado, Les Miserables
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln
Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
Colleen Atwood, Snow White and the Huntsman
Best short film (animated)
Adam and Dog Fresh Guacamole Head over Heels Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” Paperman
Asad Buzkashi Boys Curfew Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) Henry
For British Pathé’s news coverage of the Academy Awards, click here
For the Oscar-nominated Documentary, “See You At The Pillar”, click here