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Blackfriars Bridge (1896)

An actuality record of Blackfriars Bridge, London, taken from the southern end looking northwards over the Thames by R.W.Paul in July 1896. It was screened as part of his Alhambra Theatre ... See full summary »

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An actuality record of Blackfriars Bridge, London, taken from the southern end looking northwards over the Thames by R.W.Paul in July 1896. It was screened as part of his Alhambra Theatre programme shortly afterwards, certainly no later than 31 August, as it is included in a printed programme of that date (as 'Traffic on Blackfriars Bridge'). Two or three of the pedestrians seem aware of the camera's presence, though not to any particularly noticeable extent.

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1896 (UK)  »

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Across the Bridge
13 November 2009 | by (www.2020-movie-reviews.com) – See all my reviews

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.

Bridge and street scenes were pretty common subjects for filmmakers in the early days of cinema because of the amount of movement. Blackfriars Bridge was apparently fairly new when this film was shot, replacing the previous bridge which had been built in the 1700s. There isn't a car in sight and what traffic there is proceeds at a stately pace. You even see people walking along the middle of the road. You wouldn't get away with that for very long today. Not unless you were selling roses or washing windscreens anyway…


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