Robert Paul is a largely forgotten name today, but he was a major pioneer of British cinema, and was quick to grasp the commercial potential of cinema in ways that better known pioneers such as William Friese-Greene were not. He was more of a mechanic than a filmmaker making, with Birt Acres, his own camera on which to shoot films in 1895, and also Britain's first projector, the Animatograph, with which to screen them in 1896. Early in the 20th century he had a custom-made studio built in Muswell Hill.
This is the infamous (at the time) British disaster film probably the country's first ever which fuelled the simmering feud between Paul and his former partner and bitter rival, Birt Acres. It was filmed in June 1898, and chronicles, as its title suggests, the launching of HMS Albion. Perhaps the fact that the Duchess of York was unable to smash the bottle against the ship's hull should have served as an omen, because when the ship finally rumbled down into the water, its' entry created a mini tidal wave that swept a section of the crowd into the water and 38 people subsequently drowned.
It isn't all that clear what's going on to be honest, but the second half of the film appears to show a lot of confused men in boats, possibly trying to row out to save people. Birt Acres criticised Paul for filming this, and claimed that he was too busy trying to save lives to continue filming.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?