Launched this week, with 200 hours of freely accessible streamed video, is the immensely welcome new website of the East Anglian Film Archive. The archive’s collection (about which there is more here) features films from 1896 to the present; among the highlights of the available selection are programmes from Anglia Television and the BBC’s output for the East of England. There are countless treasures – to some of which we’ll return in future weeks – but today’s choice is the cherishable Introducing Anglia, the first programme shown by the new regional ITV station on 27 October 1959. Host Drew Russell, with the accent of a mid-Atlantic Scotsman, cues up delights to come, including what he calls ‘a torrid love scene’ from the rehearsals of Anglia’s first television drama The Violent Years starring Laurence Harvey and Hildegard Knef (we see a rather less-than-torrid kiss). There’s much here of interest for the television historian, as well as a good deal of innocent amusement, not least courtesy of children’s television presenters Roger Gage and Susan Hampshire (long before The Forsyte Saga) singing ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’. Below, nine more treats freely available online as alternatives to ITV’s offerings more than fifty years on.
• Live sculptures, 1903: this is a strange gem on the Europa Film Treasures site (which is full of similar wonders) contributed by the National Film Archive of Serbia – a short made the German Oscar Messter showing naked bodies in ‘artistic’ poses on a turntable, supposedly offered for budding artists to use for sketching practice.
• Oedipe: this is astonishing in a whole host of ways – it’s a free stream of immaculate quality (and available until 2 December) of a beautifully filmed production of George Enescu’s opera (which was premiered in 1936), in a staging by La Fura dels Baus and Leo Hussain; it comes with optional English subtitles and notes here from the Belgian opera and dance house La Monnaie de Munt, which is similarly streaming all of this season’s productions – how great is that (and thanks to Intermezzo for the tip).
• The First Days, 1939: another pick from the BFI’s online archive The Reel History of Britain, this is the remarkable portrait of London in the early days of World War Two co-directed by Pat Jackson, Harry Watt and Humphrey Jennings.
• John Steinbeck – Voice of America: – one of the first (or maybe the first) made by Melvyn Bragg on his return to the corporation after many years at LWT, this is a very fine study of the writing and legacy of Steinbeck (available on iPlayer until 29 November).
• Steve Jobs and NeXT: that essential scavenger of coolness Brain Pickings uncovers a rare PBS documentary from a series called The Entrepreneurs that was filmed in 1986 as the computer visionary, lately fired from Apple, set out on another attempt to change our world forever.
• White Material, 2009: to tie in with BBC Four’s World Cinema Awards, Claire Denis’ powerful film about modern Africa with Isabelle Huppert is available on BBC iPlayer (including for download) until 30 November; Peter Gradshaw’s Guardian review is here.
• Nothing but a movie: a short nightmarish HTML5 animation from illustrator Owen Freeman and web designers Jocabola, made to complement the publication of Roberto Bolano’s ‘The colonel’s son’ in Granta 117: Horror.
• Jem Cohen: in an Artforum ’500 words’ piece, the New York filmmaker (whose work I have long admired, and occasionally managed to get on British television) writes about his newsreels from Occupy Wall Street – and embeds one example.