The idea of Victorian movies may seem weird – people in the 19th century able to watch films – and yet it actually happened!
We’ve grown up with TV and film so the idea of living in a world were there are no recorded motion pictures would seem bizarre – even more so with our smart phones and social media.
But up until the 1880s, film had never been experienced. There had been crude motion pictures using a series of slides projected on to a screen but movies were unknown. However, once the Victorians discovered the technology – there was no going back!
The dawn of Victorian movies!
Victorian movies became a staple of popular entertainment by the turn of the 20th century.
DISCOVER: Victorian slang for beginners!
Documentary and drama in primitive form developed pretty quickly. Many of the Victorian movies were purely observational – pointing a camera at people and just marvelling in the ability to capture them moving.
Here is a heap of footage of industrial workers leaving factories and mills at the turn of the 20th century, which I find fascinating. Note the youngsters who just stare at the camera as if they’re about to experience something.
London traffic seems to have mesmerised film makers with its hustle and bustle. As a Londoner myself, the presence of so many horses and what seems to be smog (fossil fuel pollution) is really striking.
Royalty got in the act and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was the subject of a very long film circulated around the empire. Here is Victoria attending a garden party. She loved being the obvious star of Victorian movies.
5 thoughts on “Victorian movies from the 19th century!”
Great post! I didn’t know there was any film from the Victorian era. I’ve been fascinated by this era for a long time. It was even part of my undergraduate major. Most of my writing is set in the 19th century and despite all the research I’ve conducted for those purposes, I hadn’t come across this before. I look forward to future posts.
Thank you for that – and yes, you can find film from the 1890s – unfortunately much of it has been destroyed or rotted. But the British Film Institute and other bodies have remaining footage that includes early attempts at science fiction special effects through to early mini-documentaries.