RELIEF OF LUCKNOW (Indian Mutiny) - [A mute film from The Tornos Studio's Collection]




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Published on Jul 17, 2013

This documentary is from the collection of The Tornos Studio. We have many rare and interesting documentaries and films in our collection for private viewing.

CREDITS FOR THIS VIDEO: The Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Film Institute, The Imperial War Museum and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum. (UK)

The Relief of Lucknow was produced by the Edison Company for the British market. Around 1911, Edison began to make films on specifically European themes to increase sales in Britain. The company also started sending actors and personnel to shoot films in outdoor locations, away from its New Jersey studio (Musser 1995, 49). Serle J. Dawley, director of The Relief, led several of these trips. In the year that he directed The Relief, Dawley shot The Charge of the Light Brigade in Cheyenne, Wyoming, adapting Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem to depict the Battle of Balaclava as a tale of British loyalty and sacrifice. The Relief was shot in Bermuda, which offered the advantages of tropical scenery and the presence of the 2nd Battalion of the "Queen's Own" Regiment, stationed on site (Bioscope: 653).

The film commemorated the fifty-fifth anniversary of the violent 1857 Indian Mutiny, also referred to as the Uprising or, by Indian nationalists, as India's first War of Independence. Sepoys (Indian troops of the British East India Company) were the visible face of the uprising, but acts of bloody rebellion by civilians, peasants, and landed gentry against the British and their supporters cut across India's Upper Gangetic Plain. There were long and short-term motives for the Uprising, ranging from the Company's brutal taxation policies, its rapid annexation of land by flouting agreements with Indian Princely allies, and recent anger over the Enfield rifle, rumored to use cartridges greased with pig and beef lard, which gave offense to Muslims and Hindus alike. Significantly, the events of 1857 ended the British East India company's rule and initiated the British Crown's official control over India's revenue and governance.

Lucknow was the capital of Awadh, and is located in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. During the Mughal era, it was ruled by Shi'ite Nawabs and renowned for its tradition of dance, music, architecture and poetry. The city went on to become one of the final strongholds of rebel troops during the 1857 uprising (Sharar, Llewellyn-Jones, Oldenberg, 2001). The British annexation of Awadh in 1856 from its last Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, which fueled the storms of rebellion, is depicted in Satyajit Ray's Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players, 1977).


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