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Up the River (1896)

Passenger drops child from steam launch; it is rescued by swimmer from river bank.


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The content of this film describes as "Steam launch, from which one of the passengers drops a child, which is promptly rescued by a swimmer from the bank", and an alternative title is the far more descriptive Scene on the River Thames, showing the rescue of a child from drowning. These descriptions are very helpful (indeed, arguably essential) because the camera has unfortunately been positioned behind an agitated spectator, who in turn is directly behind the rescuers. As a result, the dramatic focus of the film (the rescue of the small child) becomes almost entirely obscured. The frustrated audience has to glean clues as to what's going on from touches such as a lifebelt floating in the bottom left-hand corner of the frame.

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Short | Drama




Release Date:

July 1896 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Felfelé a folyón  »

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Known to have been screened in August 1896, this makes Up The River one of Paul's very first attempts at narrative drama. See more »

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User Reviews

aka Scene on the Thames
13 November 2009 | by 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.

Scene on the River was filmed in July 1896. It's a brief drama, filmed from the riverbank, in which we see a passenger on a boat accidentally drop their baby into the river (as you do). A smartly dressed gent in a waistcoat jumps into the river to rescue it. Unfortunately, you can't see anything of the rescue because a bunch of bystanders get between the camera and the action, which is a shame although it adds a sense of reality to the proceedings, even though the entire thing is undoubtedly staged.

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