21st January 2013 is the inaugural Annual George Orwell Day. The date has been chosen for the day of his death (21st January 1950). British Pathé holds three films of direct relevance to the life and works of Orwell.
The earliest is a film entitled “Eton Wall Game” and it shows students at Eton celebrating St Andrew’s Day in 1921. Apparently, the film features a young George Orwell, something which has been verified by one of his biographers, D.J. Taylor. View the film here. If you know which one is Orwell, do leave us a comment below.
The other two clips date from after Orwell’s death. One covers the premiere of the film “1984” in London, along with a glimpse at an art director’s model of London, an arrow pointing to “Victory Square”. See the red carpet activities and the model here.
But the more interesting clip takes us behind the scenes of the animated adaptation of “Animal Farm” in the 1950s. We get to see storyboarding, animating and short sections of the finished film. Watch the fascinating three-minute examination of the work that went into the classic cartoon here.
As well as producing regular news stories, British Pathé often included additional forms of entertainment mixed in to add a bit of variety. These pieces could be more comedic or quirky in tone, such as the Pathé Pictorial series, or entirely fictional pieces such as Dave and Dusty. In the early days, they also produced some animated shorts. In the late 1910s, there was a series of John Bull cartoons, which sadly we cannot find in the archive. There was also, most notably Jerry The Troublesome Tyke and the somewhat similar Adventures of Pongo the Pup, both from the mid-1920s.
The archive also contains a great deal of other animated productions and series. But of immense interest are the war propaganda shorts, particularly the marvellous “Britain’s Effort“, made by Lancelot Speed, but also the Sinking of the Lusitaniaand the brief Star-gazer, a still of which is below.
The Pathé Animation archive also contains plenty of educational and information cartoons, such as this Ministry of Information film “Peak Load Electricity“ from 1943. Plus, there’s a lot of fun John Noble shorts and film of cartoonists at work. Pathé had fun with its shorts by showing the animators interacting with their creations, sometimes (in the case of Jerry), arguing with them.
So there’s a wealth of different styles and genres within the archive to explore. We’ve presented just a taster of them here, in our efforts to promote aspects of the archive which have been somewhat neglected by the understandable focus on Twentieth Century politics, royalty, and the two world wars. For an introduction to “Alternative Pathé”, read our previous blog post, “That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”