Videos for the weekend

19th January 2013

For this snowy Saturday, the week’s selection of freely available online videos.
Above, Act III of no. 3 below; no 4 has snowy aspects too.

1. How motion pictures became the movies

This is a great innovation from David Bordwell’s essential cinema website – a video lecture about the movies between 1908 and 1920 when, he argues, the modern form of cinema came into being. It’s an audio track complemented by slides with text summaries and countless frame enlargements – and it is richly engrossing. This link takes you to a page with background info and suggestions for further reading and viewing.

2. The Woman in White

… and this is one of the key films referenced by David Bordwell in his lecture – a 1917 68-minute adaptation of the Wilkie Collins novel The Woman in White, directed in the United States by Ernest C. Warde and made freely available on Vimeo courtesy of

3. Staging La bohème

Tuesday’s post about The Royal Opera ‘live cinema’ transmission of La bohème not being live at all attracted a lot of traffic. Part of the presentation was this informative and neatly-made video with contributions from several of the creative team.

4. Nordlandsbanen: minute by minute, season by season

This is rather wonderful (and I’m grateful to The Creators Project for alerting me to it). The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) has a tradition of producing lengthy ‘virtual rides’ of journeys across the country’s land- and sea-scapes – and their latest is a ten-hour rail journey from Trondheim and Bodø (the link below is a 90-second taster). The wrinkle is that they shot the same ride during four seasons – and they have synced the four versions. You can both watch a mix of the whole thing on the web (with an engaging musical soundtrack), during which it moves seamlessly from season to season – but you can also download the HD files and, under a Creative Commons licence, you can edit, re-mix and share your version. Go here for a fascinating background page in English.

5. Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 7

Archivist extraordinaire Rick Prelinger (follow @footage on Twitter) presents occasional public showings of strange and wonderful images from the city where he lives (and sometimes elsewhere). He provides a commentary and audience participation is welcomed. This is a 90-minute record of his most recent. I only wish he would do one about London.

Rick Prelinger: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 7 from The Long Now Foundation on

6. A drive through Bunker Hill and downtown Los Angeles, ca. 1940s

Also courtesy of Rick Prelinger comes this incredible shot from the wonderful Internet Archive. It is a background process plate shot from a car driving through the city and intended to be seen through the windows of a supposedly moving vehicle in a movie; this one has just been identified by an online viewer as employed in the 1949 Douglas Sirk film Shockproof.

7. The making of Manet: Portraying Life

This week the Royal Academy opens its much-anticipated show of Manet’s portraits which runs until 14 April. We’ll return to it here, but this is a useful background video made by the Toledo Museum of Art which is the co-producer of the exhibition.

8. Transmedia synergies

A week or so ago Henry Jenkins posted this very strong 19-minute video essay by UCLA Cinema and Media Studies graduate student Mathias Stork. This is Stork’s description:

The goal of the video essay is to sketch out the culture of synergy situated at the intersection of cinema and video games, taking account of journalistic, industrial, and, predominantly, aesthetic correspondences between the two media. In my opinion, it represents a ‘work-in-progress’, designed to stimulate interest and future research.

9. The Beatles performing Shakespeare

What on earth is this from? It comes courtesy of the invaluable Brain Pickings but there is nothing to identify the source. The Fab Four act out a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, apparently in 1964, and shot in colour on what might be Super 8 film. To coin a phrase, Help!

Update: for the answer, see Luke McKernan’s comment below – as well as providing the essential information, Luke points out that this was shot in black and white, and this is a colourised version.

10. Live action Toy Story

Not seen this yet? Well, nearly 7 million people have since it went online exactly a week ago. Amazingly, Jonason Pauley and Jesse Perrotta used real toys across two years for a frame-by-frame re-make of the original Toy Story. Joe Berkowitz at Co.Create has a background interview with the filmmakers.

Header image  © Johan Persson/ROH 2006.


  1. Luke McKernan says:

    All Around the Beatles, ITV tx. 6 May 1964 – made in black-and-white – what you have there is a colourised clip.

  2. John Wyver says:

    I knew you’d know, Luke – many thanks, as always. Produced by Jack Good, no less, who as your wonderful Shakespeare database notes, went on to create the rock opera Catch My Soul, based on Othello. I wonder how that would stand up today – perhaps it’s time for a revival?

  3. Luke McKernan says:

    Catch my Soul (the film) appears to have vanished – fallen out of distribution and very hard to track down, or so it’s been reported to me. Can a film ever be so bad that it is better off lost? I hope not.

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