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Wonderful London (BFI) in July

The BFI's third DVD release for 23 July 2012 is Wonderful London, a collection of silent films from 1924. Painstakingly restored by the BFI National Archive to reinstate their original tinting and toning, and with new piano accompaniments by world-renowned silent film pianist John Sweeney, the six films on Wonderful London offer a fascinating glimpse of London life during the silent era of the mid-1920s. Featuring some of the most evocative sights of the capital, they also reveal lost images that our generation will never have se en before. After a sold out screening at the 2011 BFI London Film Festival, they now come to DVD, along with six additional films and an illustrated booklet of new essays by contemporary London commentators.

In two series and over 20 films, Harry B Parkinson and Frank Miller, the directors of Wonderful London, created travelogues of different aspects of city life for cinema screenings. Aimed at exploiting the popularity of the print magazine of the same name, they were produced on a budget, but told with wit and flair. They particularly liked to highlight the contrasts in the capital, East End and West End, rich and poor, natives and immigrants – often looking beyond the stereotypes to show surprising views of the city.

This collection features 12 films (each runs between 8 to 12 minutes long), six of which have been digitally restored by a team of experts from the BFI National Archive and six more from the series that are presented in the black and white prints made some years ago by the BFI using usual traditional film printing methods.

The newly-restored films are:

  • Barging Through London
  • London’s Sundays
  • London’s Free Shows
  • Cosmopolitan London
  • Flowers of London
  • London Off the Track

The extra six films are:
  • Dickens’ London
  • London’s Outer Ring
  • London Old and New
  • London’s Contrasts
  • Known London
  • Along Father Thames to Shepperton

The package also includes an illustrated booklet with an introduction by BFI curator Bryony Dixon and new essays by Sukhdev Sandhu, Jude Rogers, Iain Sinclair and Michael Rosen

London-based readers might be interested in a special Wonderful London Launch Event on Wednesday 18 July at 7.00pm

Smoke: A London Peculiar and the BFI present a special screening event to launch the Wonderful London DVD, with live soundtrack by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley and Smoke: A London Peculiar editors Jude Rogers and Matt Haynes.

A selection of the films will be introduced by Bryony Dixon, Silent Film Curator at the BFI and writers who have contributed to the DVD.

Venue: Rough Trade East, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL
Time: 7.00pm
Admission: Free
More details:


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