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Narrator (french version) (voice)
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Himself (archive footage) (as Sir Michael Balcon)
Charles Bennett ...
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Chili Bouchier ...
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Dallas Bower ...
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Eric Cross ...
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Harold French ...
Himself
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Himself (as Sir John Gielgud)
Sidney Gilliat ...
Himself
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Himself (archive footage)
Joan Morgan ...
Herself
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Himself
George Pearson ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Narrator (german version) (voice)
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29 October 1995 (UK)  »

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Good viewing for film historians
28 May 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Although an interesting documentary, "Opportunity Lost" does not grab me as much as the previous entries. I think there are two reasons for this, one personal and the other historical. The personal reason is that I just prefer French and German (as well as Italian and Russian) cinemas to British. In fact, the only film featured in this episode that I have seen is Hitchock's The Lodger. A more objective reason is that unlike Swedish, German, and French silent cinemas, British cinema went into a lull after the first world war. It had a strong early presence, but as the films became longer, a sense of snobbery combined with a lack of craftsmanship hurt the film industry. An example of this is the 1913 adaptation of Hamlet where the cameraman loses Hamlet in the frame, searches for the actor, and just gives up. No wonder British cinema of the period failed to make waves overseas.

However, British cinema did improve in the second half of the twenties, just before the coming of sound. Cottage on Dartmoor, The Ghost Train, and Underground, all look like good movies. Going back to 1913, the mean-spirited, anti-suffragette "Milling the Militants" is intriguing from a historical perspective.

Speaking of which, "Opportunity Lost" is most impressive as a historical documentary. One does not finish a viewing with an exuberant urge to watch these films the way one does with some of the other episodes. In fact, some (I for one) might complain about the inclusion of British silent cinema at the exclusion of Italian and (especially) Russian silent cinemas. Regardless, as education, as a spotlight shone on a section of film history, "Opportunity Lost" deserves to be seen by all film lovers.


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