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The Living Picture Craze: An Introduction to Victorian Film


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Film takes a starring role in this course, exploring the emergence of a new medium that was set to capture the world’s imagination.

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Explore the birth of film and the end of Queen Victoria’s epic reign

Roll up! Roll up! Take your seats for the ‘Living Picture’ craze! In this course we journey back to the end of the Victorian era; a time of intense modernisation and unprecedented change.

Using the BFI’s unique collection of surviving Victorian films we will debate common myths about the period and the materials, as well as examine what the films reveal about the society that produced them.

We will be your expert guides to these incredible films, leading you through the many spectacles and curiosities made during film’s formative years, 1895-1901.

What topics will you cover?

  • Investigate the late Victorian period in Britain. Unravel and discuss common myths about the era, and examine what Victorian films reveal about the society that produced them.
  • Examine how film became a key medium to explore the rapidly-changing Victorian world; both at home and abroad. Discover why a phantom ride isn’t as scary as it sounds, and have the opportunity to make your own to share with peers.
  • Explore the Victorian imagination and learn about what audiences watched and why. Watch and examine a wide variety of films from comedies and trick films to serious dramas and adaptations.
  • Draw parallels with the visual spectacles available in Victorian period and our own multimedia landscape.
  • Programme a dynamic play bill for a Victorian audience and explain your choices.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with a passion for film and Victorian and British history. This includes lecturers, teachers and students of film, media, history or English literature.

The Living Picture Craze: An Introduction to Victorian Film
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