Churchill: A Life on Film

24 January 2015 marks 50 years since the death of a man who dominated 20th century politics like no other – British Prime Minister and international statesman Sir Winston Churchill. Throughout his life, British Pathé’s cameras provided the world with a unique, visual insight into his character. The company documented his career from the Sidney Street Siege in 1911 to his state funeral and has archive of many of his speeches. In 2002, Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time.

In honour of this anniversary, British Pathé has curated a definitive, visual archive of his career entitled Churchill: A Life on Film. We have organised this content by topic and event and have presented it on a single navigable page for the first time. Click here to begin exploring.

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New YouTube Welcome Video

Check out our new YouTube welcome video! We’ve gone for Dramatic with a capital D. What do you think?

We’ve appreciated your feedback since uploading our entire archive onto YouTube just a few months ago, and you’ll notice we’ve started making a few changes to our channel. We hope to take it forward while keeping the best of what’s been done before.

Do let us know in the comments section below of the sorts of things you want to see on our channel.

Subscribe now to the largest archive of history on YouTube. Follow us through the 20th Century and dive into the good and the bad times of the past. Feel free to explore more than 80,000 videos of filmed history and maybe you’ll even find stuff no one else has ever seen.

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New Web Series – NOW & THEN

We’ve launched a new series on the British Pathé YouTube channel in which we will compare life in the present to life in the past. It’s called Did You Know – Now & Then. The first episode covers the topic of smoking and the change in the perception of cigarettes over time. It takes you from the introduction of cigarettes in the Western world to smoking’s apotheosis as a social phenomenon, and to its fall in popularity in recent years.

Our second episode, on obesity, will be released shortly. Don’t forget to subscribe and to let us know your thoughts on the new series and what you want to see covered in future episodes.

You can watch episode one below.

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Celebrate Scotland

In a previous post, we looked at a selection of films related to Scottish Independence. Now, with the referendum date looming, we’ve dived into our entire Scottish archive. We’ve compiled a sample of some of the finest 20th century reporting on Scotland and, as with our First World War centenary collection, organised them by topic. The films are presented on a single navigable page for the first time. You’ll find coverage of North Sea oil, NATO and nuclear power, as well as terrific celebrations of Scottish culture. You’ll even catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster.

Click here to begin exploring Scotland: The Heritage Collection.

Just some of the topics covered by the new collection.
Just some of the topics covered by the new collection.

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Britain Joins WW2

75 years ago this month: On 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. This collection of vintage films from the British Pathé archive shows the preparations being made for war. The selection also includes a speech by President Roosevelt on his hope that the United States will not get involved.

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KING’S WAR SPEECH (1939)

 

Sound only material (no picture). A speech by King George VI on the outbreak of World War II. He talks about trying to find peace but that it is necessary to fight now that war has come. He calls on his people at home and across the seas to stand calm, firm and united. The National Anthem ends the broadcast.

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THIS COUNTRY IS AT WAR – MR CHAMBERLAIN 03/09/39 (1939)

 

Footage of preparations being made in Britain as a result of the outbreak of war. Various shots of Spitfires and Hurricanes in flight and of the fleet sailing. This newsreel was released in cinemas in Britain on 11th September 1939. Britain and France had declared war 8 days earlier. 

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WAR! (1939)

 

Footage of children being evacuated at the outbreak of the Second World War and European countries preparing to repel the Nazis. Also released in cinemas on 11th September 1939.

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PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT TALKS ABOUT THE WAR (1939)

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives a speech on America’s neutrality in the conflict across the Atlantic, declaring his hatred for war but stating that he cannot ask all Americans to stay neutral, for even neutrals cannot close their conscience. As with the above newsreels, this was released in cinemas on 11th September 1939.

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The Liberation of Paris

70 years ago this month: On 25th August 1944, the Battle for Paris was over and the city was free of its German occupiers. There are some excellent films in the archive showing the victory celebrations, the Allied advance through France, and life in Paris during the occupation, including footage of the French resistance.

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IT HAPPENED IN PARIS (1944)

 

Pathé Gazette cameraman Gaston Madru conceals a camera and films the streets of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942. The footage he captured was shown to the public after the liberation of the city in this newsreel, released in cinemas on 18th September 1944.

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MEN OF THE MAQUIS (1944)

 

The story of the underground army of France with an exclusive personal narrative by the French actress Francoise Rosay. Released in cinemas on 10th April 1944.

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THE MAQUIS STRIKE (1944)

 

This film shows the French resistance uprising against a crumbling German occupation.

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FRENCH DOCTOR SPEAKS (1944)

 

A French doctor talks abut role of doctors during the German occupation. He talks about the treatment of Germans, problems with the Gestapo and medical progress in England and America. He speaks in English.

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GESTAPO TORTURE CHAMBER (1944)

 

French officials examine a Gestapo torture chamber and find chilling evidence of past tortures.

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PARIS DELIVERED (1944)

 

Dramatic scenes as allied troops liberate the city of Paris. The cameraman was Kenneth Gordon and the newsreel features an official broadcaster of the French delegation in London who gives his personal viewpoint of the liberation. Released in cinemas on 31st August 1944.

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COLLABORATOR’S HAIR CUT (1945)

 

This silent footage shows what was in store for Nazi collaborators after the liberation of France. French women have their heads shaved by the Maquis as punishment for cooperating with the German occupiers.

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Scotland: The Future’s Past

On 18th September 2014, the people of Scotland will vote on a matter of great importance – “Should Scotland be an independent country?” It is not a new question and the British Pathé archive contains a few (and unfortunately only a few) films related to Scottish nationalism during the Twentieth Century. A selection of vintage videos can be viewed below. Particularly interesting is the 1951 newsreel, “The Stone Returns”.

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SCOTS’ WHA’ HAE’! (1929)

 

Full title reads: “SCOTS’ WHAE’ HAE’ – Scots Nationalists commemorate 624th anniversary of martyrdom of Sir William Wallace at his birthplace at Elderslie.” Silent newsreel released in cinemas on 29th August 1929. (William Wallace is more popularly known as “Braveheart”.)

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AROUND SCOTLAND – ARBROATH (1947)

 

The first part of this film documents the International Music and Drama Festival which took place in Edinburgh in 1947. The second features footage from Arbroath in which an historical pageant commemorating Scotland’s Charter of Independence takes place in the ruins of Arbroath Abbey. Released in cinemas 28th August 1947.

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“THE STONE” RETURNS (1951)

 

A very interesting film about the theft of the Stone of Scone / Destiny by young supporters of Scottish Home Rule from beneath the Coronation chair at Westminster Abbey in an attempt to return the historic object to the Scottish people. The event was even turned into a film in 2008.

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P.M. FOR COMMONS (1963)

 

Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home stands in by-election at Kinross against Arthur Donaldson, the Scottish National Party candidate, and television star William Rushton who hands out “No Home Rule” posters. Released in cinemas on 7th November 1963.

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