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This impressive ceremony is performed in the order as officially published. Their Majesties, Royalty, Clergy, and other Distinguished Personages taking part in the Coronation are impersonated by accomplished actors and actresses, every detail as to costumes, robes, regalia, coronation chairs, chair of state, Abbey arrangements, etc., being as faithfully reproduced as possible, in order to convey the scene to the millions who are not privileged to witness the actual proceedings. Only such portions of the ceremony as would admit of action have been selected for purposes of this representation, thus greatly reducing the duration of the actual performance, and blending the same into a consecutive series, enacted in the most impressive and dignified manner, and in the following order, viz: 1. His Majesty taking the oath. 2. King Edward kissing the book and signing the oath. 3. The annointing 4. The oblation of the sword. 5. The imperial mantle 6. The orb and sceptres. 7. The crowning of ... Written by
AMB Picture Catalogue (1902)
Elaborate fakery with authentic "book-end" footage
The earliest 'newsreel' films were in fact fakes: re-enactments produced in a studio, with (usually amateur) actors impersonating the public figures, and often ludicrously bad stage effects to simulate fire, flood and other forces of nature. 'The Coronation of Edward VII' is one more such fake, but is notable for being a much more elaborate production than others of its kind ... and is also notable because it's a 'pre-enactment' of a real event, having been filmed BEFORE (rather than after) the actual event it purports to depict.
The synopsis of this movie (elsewhere on this IMDb site) is both an accurate rundown of the film and also an accurate recounting of the coronation ceremony itself, being so heavily ritualised as to be more or less scripted. However, the fakery is obvious to modern viewers and was probably obvious even to unsophisticated film audiences of the time. 'Westminster Abbey', as seen here under the harsh and flat studio lighting, is clearly a painted set. The actors cast as H.M. Edward VII and his consort Queen Alexandra -- amateurs supposedly chosen for their physical resemblance to the real figures -- are obvious fakes. The actor playing the king is too thin, and his beard is too small (the real Edward VII, after decades of soft living, was quite heavy-set indeed when he finally succeeded to the throne). The actress playing Queen Alexandra looks nothing like her, and is too heavy. Worse luck, the (fake) Archbishop of Canterbury and the other priests are garbed in robes which look more appropriate for a French Catholic mass than for an Anglican service.
Filmmaker Georges Melies and his (American-born) British producer Charles Urban made considerable effort to have this film shot, edited, printed and shipped to exhibitors in time for Coronation Day, so that audiences who couldn't watch the actual event would be able to witness this enactment simultaneous to the actual coronation! On Coronation Day, Urban set up a Bell & Howell camera outside Westminster Abbey and shot authentic footage of the royal carriage arriving for the coronation and departing afterward. This footage -- genuine newsreel -- became book-ends, spliced before and after Melies's faked footage of the coronation. So, audiences who saw this film after Coronation Day were at least able to witness some authentic footage at the beginning and the end.
More for the effort and ingenuity put into it than any historic value, I'll rate this movie 7 out of 10.
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