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Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour (1896)




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Published on Feb 7, 2008

A decaying print of this long-lost film was discovered and duplicated just in time for 1996's celebration of 100 years of projected film in Britain. Among those who saw it in 1896 were members of the Royal Family, at a special screening of films put on by Birt Acres, pioneering maker of this and other very early "actuality" films. His precise motives may be impossible to reconstruct, and his shots of fishing smacks taken from Great Yarmouth's harbour are painfully brief. But they do suggest an early interest in film as a documentary record.

Of similar length to the earliest web films of a century later, this is an example of how products of new media in their infancy have their own fragmentary fascination and beauty. (Patrick Russell)

For more information about Birt Acres see

All titles on the BFI Films channel are preserved in the vast collections of the BFI National Archive. To find out more about the Archive visit


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