Into Archive Film: Past Present Future

trip to the moon (high-res)
trip to the moon (high-res)

Archive film refers to films that have been made in the past and exists of a rich mix of different genres and styles which have all been preserved because of their historical or cultural interest.  Encompassing such a large collection of film and eras, there are three examples of archive that you will find on the Into Film catalogue:

  • Films made before 1929, including largely silent early forms of fiction, animation and documentary film.
  • Films made by amateur filmmakers or home videos throughout the years, including our vast catalogue of Into Film youth-made films
  • Newsreels and documentation of past events or people.

Capturing key moments in cinematic history as well as documentation of traditions, industry, people and movements across the years, archive film is an important social and cultural time-capsule freely available to delve into and explore. Here we showcase the different examples of archive with a list of films on the catalogue for Primary and Secondary ages that will help audiences understand what archive film is and how it helps to inform ideas about the past, present and future.

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon)

CertU

Age group7+

Duration15 mins

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon)(1902)

Fascinating early slice of science fiction and a founding stone of modern cinema.

One of the earliest fiction films ever made and at 14 minutes this is a brilliant introduction to the beginnings of black and white silent cinema, the development of fictional narratives and pioneering uses of special effects.

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Bright, Bad and British!

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration45 mins

Bright, Bad and British!(2015)

A collection of extraordinary footage from the BFI National Archive capturing the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.

From newsreels to silent slapstick this is an important and stimulating collection of films documenting the Suffragette movement in Britain that can be watched in segments or enjoyed in one go.

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Britain on Film

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration30 mins

Britain on Film(2015)

An extraordinary digital archive of British life across the last 120 years, from home movies to feature films.

An easy to explore free-to-access online catalogue of British archive film, divided into lots of different topics from the obvious to the weird and wonderful can be found here: http://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film/

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Nanook of the North

CertU

Age group7+

Duration79 mins

Nanook of the North(1922)

Pioneering documentary from 1922 which reveals the life of an Inuit man called Nanook.

Director Robert J Flaherty is celebrated as the pioneer of documentary filmmaking and this film about Intuits living in the Canadian Artic, consisting of natural observation and staged scenes, is deemed one of the very first feature-length documentary films.

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Night Mail

CertU

Age group7+

Duration23 mins

Night Mail(1936)

An incredibly successful fusion of music, sound and voice, you can almost feel the rhythmic clatter of metal upon metal.

Scottish filmmaker John Grierson, inspired by the work of American filmmaker Robert J Flaherty, coined the term ‘documentary’ and became the leading documentary filmmaker for Britain and Canada. This is one of his most ground-breaking films made during his time at the GPO Film Unit.

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Electric Edwardians

CertE

Age group11+

Duration68 mins

Electric Edwardians(1900)

This black and white documentary collection from the start of the last century is a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in Edwardian Britain.

Mitchell & Kenyon was an Edwardian Film Company based in Blackburn best known for its non-fiction ‘actuality’ films that captured the day-to-day lives of the British working classes. This is a fun, eclectic collection of films focusing on themes of Sport and Industry.

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The GPO Film Unit Collection, Volume One - Addressing The Nation

CertE

Age group11+

Duration300 mins

The GPO Film Unit Collection, Volume One - Addressing The Nation(1933)

British postal service shorts from the 1930s, made by young British filmmakers encouraged to record the world around them in an innovative style.

Set up in the 1930s to document the work of the General Post Office, the film unit was headed up by pioneering documentary filmmaker James Grierson and made up of key British directors who produced a series of innovative black and white films documenting the GPO’s activities.

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Into Film Youth Made Shorts - Archive

CertUnclassified

Age groupAll ages

Duration30 mins

Into Film Youth Made Shorts - Archive(2015)

A collection of short films that incorporate archive film or audio footage to tell stories.

Bringing archive to life, this collection of youth made documentary films reveals how accessible and fun it is to young people as they use archive film clips to explore stories local to their communities.

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Lotte Reiniger: The Fairy Tale Films - Disc 1

CertPG

Age groupAll ages

Duration192 mins

Lotte Reiniger: The Fairy Tale Films - Disc 1(1961)

Collection of Lotte Reiniger's stunning depictions of popular fairy tales using her unique silhouette animation style.

Lotte Reiniger was a pioneering animator working in Germany at the beginning of the 20th Century. Celebrated for her innovative silhouette animation technique here is a collection of fairytale adaptations she made over the course of her career that includes many favourites from Cinderella to Puss in Boots.

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Nosferatu

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration89 mins

Nosferatu(1922)

This classic and much-imitated take on Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the most famous of all silent films.

The first ever screen representation of the well-known vampire Dracula is full of dark shadows, exaggerated movements and gothic settings that make this an exciting, if a little eerie, introduction to black and white silent cinema and an early film movement called German Expressionism.

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The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films: Disc A

CertU

Age group7+

Duration180 mins

The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films: Disc A(1917)

Essential introduction to silent comedy giant Buster Keaton, full of unbelievable stunts and endless slapstick, featuring eight of his short films.

One of the great silent comedians alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, this Buster Keaton collection consists of thirty-two short films made between 1917 to 1923 and are an entertaining way for young audiences to engage with defining films and performances of the black and white silent slapstick genre.

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Doctor Jekyll And Mr Hyde

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration67 mins

Doctor Jekyll And Mr Hyde (1920)

Silent, spooky version of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story, about a doctor who creates a potion which splits his personality into two sides.

Like Nosferatu (1922) this classic silent black and white film’s reliance on dramatic lighting and lack of dialogue are a perfect way to bring an unusual yet familiar story that thrives on its creepy atmosphere to life and is easy to understand for younger ages.

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Secrets Of Nature

CertU

Age group7+

Duration200 mins

Secrets Of Nature(1922)

From beautifully unfurling blossoms to killer vines and aphid attacks, this pioneering collection is a window onto a golden age of nature documentary.

An example of one of the first ever nature documentaries, this features – for its time - state-of-the-art uses of time-lapse, microscopic and underwater photography and is co-directed by one of the leading British female documentary filmmakers of the early 20th century.

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Vintage Mickey

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration64 mins

Vintage Mickey(1928)

A collection of some of the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons, including his first appearance in 'Steamboat Willie'.

Delve into the Walt Disney archive and see how the world’s most famous animator developed his signature character Mickey Mouse – a key collection for those that want to understand the history of animation.

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The Art Of Harold Lloyd

CertPG

Age groupAll ages

Duration232 mins

The Art Of Harold Lloyd(2006)

Handy introduction to silent comedy heavyweight Harold Lloyd, an equal to Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, in a series of hilarious slapstick shorts.

A series of eight films made between 1918 to 1922 that see the development of the comedian’s bespectacled character Harold, providing a fun introduction to younger ages to the thrills of black and white silent slapstick.

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Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon)

CertU

Age group7+

Duration15 mins

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon)(1902)

Fascinating early slice of science fiction and a founding stone of modern cinema.

One of the earliest fiction films ever made and at 14 minutes this is a brilliant introduction to the beginnings of black and white silent cinema, the development of fictional narratives and pioneering uses of special effects.

Read more
Bright, Bad and British!

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration45 mins

Bright, Bad and British!(2015)

A collection of extraordinary footage from the BFI National Archive capturing the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.

From newsreels to silent slapstick this is an important and stimulating collection of films documenting the Suffragette movement in Britain that can be watched in segments or enjoyed in one go.

Read more
Britain on Film

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration30 mins

Britain on Film(2015)

An extraordinary digital archive of British life across the last 120 years, from home movies to feature films.

An easy to explore free-to-access online catalogue of British archive film, divided into lots of different topics from the obvious to the weird and wonderful can be found here: http://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film/

Read more
Nanook of the North

CertU

Age group7+

Duration79 mins

Nanook of the North(1922)

Pioneering documentary from 1922 which reveals the life of an Inuit man called Nanook.

Director Robert J Flaherty is celebrated as the pioneer of documentary filmmaking and this film about Intuits living in the Canadian Artic, consisting of natural observation and staged scenes, is deemed one of the very first feature-length documentary films.

Read more
Night Mail

CertU

Age group7+

Duration23 mins

Night Mail(1936)

An incredibly successful fusion of music, sound and voice, you can almost feel the rhythmic clatter of metal upon metal.

Scottish filmmaker John Grierson, inspired by the work of American filmmaker Robert J Flaherty, coined the term ‘documentary’ and became the leading documentary filmmaker for Britain and Canada. This is one of his most ground-breaking films made during his time at the GPO Film Unit.

Read more
Nosferatu

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration89 mins

Nosferatu(1922)

This classic and much-imitated take on Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the most famous of all silent films.

The first ever screen representation of the well-known vampire Dracula is full of dark shadows, exaggerated movements and gothic settings that make this an exciting, if a little eerie, introduction to black and white silent cinema and an early film movement called German Expressionism.

Read more
The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon

CertE

Age group7+

Duration176 mins

The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon(2004)

Fascinating glimpse into the history of Britain's people and the history of filmmaking.

Mitchell & Kenyon was an Edwardian Film Company based in Blackburn best known for its non-fiction ‘actuality’ films that captured the day-to-day lives of the British working classes and would be screened in local town halls. This collection is divided into three themes: Life and Times, Sport and Pleasure, Saints and Sinners.

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Man With a Movie Camera

CertU

Age group14+

Duration68 mins

Man With a Movie Camera(1929)

An experimental early Soviet documentary that's still an incredible viewing experience today.

A significant piece of film history that at the time broke boundaries of documentary filmmaking. It features experimental camera shots and rapidly cut together images of everyday life in Russia with scenes of the film itself being filmed and edited, that offered a unique window into the country during its revolution if 1917.

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The Lodger - A Story of the London Fog

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

The Lodger - A Story of the London Fog(1927)

Atmospheric silent film by Alfred Hitchcock, in which a serial killer called The Avenger is stalking the fogbound streets of London.

Made by the renowned British director Alfred Hitchcock, this is one of his earliest films. A silent, black and white thriller about a murderer on the loose on the foggy streets of London that is widely understood to be the film that Hitchcock honed his style of suspense.

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Big City Stories

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration82 mins

Big City Stories(2011)

A fascinating compilation of over 100 years of black Londoners on film, including interviews, newsreels, and clips from TV shows and feature films.

A film collage including amateur made home movies and interviews to give a rich, multifaceted portrait of the city of London and the black communities within it.

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The Great White Silence

CertU

Age group7+

Duration103 mins

The Great White Silence(1924)

You may have heard of the polar explorer Captain Scott, but did you know that his last doomed expedition to the South Pole was caught on film?

A fascinating archive film that captures an important moment in history - the final expedition of legendary polar explorer Captain Scott to the South Pole. Photographed at the time of the expedition by Herbert G Ponting, he later edited his footage into this silent film to reveal the spectacular landscape and hazardous environment that Scott was faced with.

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Of Time and the City

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration74 mins

Of Time and the City(2008)

Poetic, nostalgia-filled documentary by Liverpool-born director Terence Davies, looking back to the harsh post-war 1950s and 1960s in his home city.

An example of a poetic documentary, this is the Liverpool-born director’s love letter the the city he grew up in. Made up of home-movies, documentary footage and newsreels he wittily narrates his experience of the city and how it changed throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

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Teenage

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration78 mins

Teenage(2013)

The birth of youth culture is explored in this energetic and inventively constructed documentary that presents a fascinating teenage view of the past.

Blending found footage, re-enactments and a refreshingly sharp narration this is an insightful and frenetic exploration of youth culture in America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

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Norman McLaren — The Master's Collection — Disc 1

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration128 mins

Norman McLaren — The Master's Collection — Disc 1(1933)

An extensive collection of the works of Norman McLaren, Oscar-winning Scottish filmmaker who pioneered many techniques in animation and sound design.

For a look at progressive animation styles this collection provides an introduction to the innovative works of the animator Norman McLaren known for his wonderfully surreal imagery and unconventional soundtracks. His catalogue is enormous but a dip into any one of these discs will give you a flavour of his work.

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The Epic of Everest

CertU

Age group11+

Duration86 mins

The Epic of Everest(1924)

Epic and moving silent film documenting the doomed attempt of two mountaineers to become the first people to conquer Mount Everest in 1924.

One of the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet as well as a historically important document of a fatal expedition to Mount Everest by two mountaineers in 1924. Filmed with a hand-held camera, this is cinema at its rawest capturing the dramatic environment and the struggle of the people trying to survive in it.

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Seven Chances

CertU

Age group7+

Duration56 mins

Seven Chances(1925)

A shy type is left his grandpa's fortune only on the condition he's married by his birthday, in this classic from silent comedy legend Buster Keaton.

An enjoyable feature-length example of the black and white silent comedies popular in the early 20th century. Directed by and starring the American slapstick star Buster Keaton as a man who has 24 hours to find a wife before losing a fortune it features one of the most hilarious chase sequences in cinema history.

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Un Chien Andalou

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration16 mins

Un Chien Andalou(1929)

Surrealist classic from Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, featuring some of cinema's most notorious and unsettling images.

Not for the faint-hearted this is a key example of early surrealist cinema. Made up of provocatively bizarre scenes and fantastical images from significant artist and filmmakers of the genre. Including work from Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali it is deemed one of the most important art films ever made.

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Free Cinema

CertU

Age group14+

Duration50 mins

Free Cinema(1952)

Collection of the work produced by the mid 1950s British documentary film movement.

A series of films made by British filmmakers in the mid to late 50s with the aim of challenging the norms of mainstream British filmmaking at the time. Made up of documentary and short fiction the Free Cinema films share a common attitude of freedom of speech and a quest for authenticity in their representation of ordinary people at work or play.

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The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari

CertU

Age group11+

Duration66 mins

The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari(1919)

Visually stunning silent horror, as the spooky Dr Caligari parades his fairground attraction, the sleepwalking Cesare, in a tale of madness and murder

One of the first horror films ever made, this German black and white silent film is also the first example of German Expressionism (see Nosferatu also in this list). It’s haunting shadows, sharp lines and gothic styling established many of the tropes and imagery we associate with the horror genre today.

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Metropolis

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration138 mins

Metropolis(1927)

This visually spectacular German sci-fi classic (made, incredibly, in 1927) sees the rich live in skyscrapers and the poor toil underground.

A landmark of early science fiction filmmaking and one of the first feature length films ever made, Metropolis is an epic of all proportions that has influenced many filmmakers over the years with its arc deco styling and stark, expressionist imagery of a dystopian future ruled by robots.

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Life In A Day

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Life In A Day(2011)

Ambitious gathering of snippets from public lives that illustrates both the rich diversity and similarities of the human experience.

An example of contemporary archive, this unique documentary film is made up of youtube videos crowdsourced from people around the world. All made on the same day - 24th July 2010 – the films are powerfully edited together by the director Kevin McDonald to give a snapshot of life on earth in that moment.

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Koyaanisqatsi

CertU

Age group11+

Duration86 mins

Koyaanisqatsi(1982)

A hypnotic and wordless vision of our complex and endangered world, cut to a mesmerising score by composer Philip Glass.

An experimental documentary film made up of slow motion and time-lapse images of American landscapes across a period of time. From urban city sprawls to rural landscapes the images are set to a rhythmic soundtrack that builds momentum as the transforming images document the fascinating change in the landscape over time.

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The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration96 mins

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975(2011)

A treasure trove of interviews and footage from the late 1960s and early 1970s provides a fascinating snapshot of the US Civil Rights struggle.

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Before Stonewall

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration84 mins

Before Stonewall(1984)

Classic documentary charting the history of the LGBT community before the seminal Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York.

Made up of archive footage, newsreels, TV and film clips edited together with dialogue from interviews layered over the top this important documentary innovatively charts the rise of the LGBT movement in America.

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Amy

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration128 mins

Amy(2015)

Archive footage is used to tell the life and career of iconic soul singer Amy Winehouse.

With a life played out in the media, this unique documentary about singer Amy Winehouse is aptly made up of mobile phone films, home videos, TV appearances and news clips that assemble her rise to fame. Intercut with interviews with friends and colleagues this is a poignant example of contemporary archive film and how it can be used to tell modern-day stories.

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