Along the Great Divide: Great Britain 1900-1912 (film #1 on The Silent Revolution: What Do Those Old Films Mean?, Vol. 1 (Facets, 1999)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This is the first in a series of BBC documentaries about early film. This one concentrates on early English films and contains many clips of same. It's well-written and provides an interesting historical context to the films. The soundtracks of the films are unusual––some are typical piano soundtracks, others have sound effects that are so appropriate that the films seem like sound films at first, and some have bizarre experimental vocal music soundtracks. These documentaries should be good companions to the other films on this list as they place them within their historical contexts. This film points out that early English film was mostly made for the lower classes and has an anarchic feeling as a result, a feeling that was later lost when the middle and upper classes got interested in film. This provides a historical context for other films in this category, including Rescued by Rover, A Day in the Life of a Coalminer, and Buy Your Own Cherries (which turns out to be a temperance film--who'd a thought?).

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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