Skip to main content

National Science and Media Museum

You are here:

The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show

For one night only, Victorian cinema comes to Bradford! Enjoy an unmissable selection of early short films on the big screen, plus live musical accompaniment.

For the first time outside London, this special event will showcase a selection of some of the earliest moving pictures. Expect to be astounded by the sheer clarity, scale and spectacle of these incredibly rare surviving fragments of Britain’s first films, skilfully preserved by the BFI National Archive and presented here in a new 4K digital format.

Bryony Dixon, curator for silent film at the BFI National Archive, will talk us through the evolution of film projection and offer her expert commentary on the films. The presentation will also feature live musical accompaniment from composer John Sweeney, whose original score complements the show wonderfully.

This event is presented as a special prelude to Widescreen Weekend, our yearly festival celebrating the past, present and future of film.

Free tickets for under-25s

Thanks to Film Hub North, we’ll be offering a limited amount of free tickets to under-25s for this event! These tickets are available on a strictly first come, first served basis, so we recommend booking early.

About the films

The films in The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show were produced towards the end of Queen Victoria’s long reign, when competing showmen were projecting their moving picture shows to large audiences in London’s West End theatres. Following early experiments in moving images such as the kinetoscope and mutoscope, these shows were the first examples of communal film watching.

This presentation is chiefly made up of large-format film—68mm to be exact, arguably the IMAX of its day. The format was developed by William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, a British engineer who worked with Thomas Edison to develop moving picture technology. Dickson used his Biograph camera to film things normal people wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see: the royal family taking tea; Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican; the battlefields of the Boer War.

Each around a minute long, these films range in date from 1897 to 1901 and serve up a broad range of subjects: from gorgeous panoramic vistas to dizzying ‘phantom rides’, from music hall turns and the pomp of royal pageantry to the bustle of the Victorian street. They offer a sense of immersion in the Victorian world which you really have to see to believe.