In 1927 Claude Friese-Greene shot some of the first-ever color film footage around London. He captured everyday life in the city with a technique innovated by his father, called Biocolour.
Though we usually think of French names like Lumiere and Melies when we think of early film pioneers, Friese-Greene’s technique captures London in striking detail, as if putting the whole city in a time capsule. The people, most now long since gone, pass before us like ghosts. What’s striking is, apart from the noticeably formal clothing and a few old cars, how familiar and unchanged everything seems. Trafalgar Square, which the film’s title card describes as “another monument to a hero of the past,” looks the same now, as does London Bridge and the London Tower.
Urban Peek notes British Film Institute used computer enhancement to reduce the flickering effect of the original Biocolour and bring us this striking rare film which transports us back through time. Watch below.