Flat caps, trams, open-topped buses and even a horse and cart: welcome to London, circa 1927.
Yet this is no dusty, sepia-smudged stroll down memory lane. Rather this is the work of English cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene, who along with his father William began experimenting with a system to colour tint film prints nearly ninety years ago.
This particular version was uploaded to Vimeo by Tim Sparke, who described it as “like a beautifully dusty old postcard you’d find in a junk store, but moving.”
A screenshot from 'London in 1927,' a video made with archival footage shot by British cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene, using a new colored-film technique known as 'Biocolour'
Cinema Blend explains: “Starting in 1924, Claude began putting together a series of shots called The Open Road that basically operated as travelogues around the United Kingdom.”
Uncovered and remastered by the British Film Institute, the footage - a rare example of pre-war colour film - has been freely available for several years, but in the past week has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, largely thanks to being picked up by Reddit.
The film is shot in several locations, including Hyde Park, Westminster, London Bridge and the approach to Trafalgar Square.
Claude and his father crossed the pond in the hopes of marketing their new coloured film technique to Hollywood, but were unsuccessful.
[Friese-Greene] crossed the Atlantic with the aim of capturing the US market, only to find his work outclassed by the technically superior two-strip Technicolor process. Following that disappointment, after a few trade screenings in 1925 The Open Road was abandoned, and after its creator's death the footage was donated to the National Film and Television Archive.
Hopefully, with the help of Vimeo and YouTube, Friese-Greene's efforts will live on for eternity.
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