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Duration: 30 minutes

Movies were a wonder of the Edwardian age, but they were only in black and white. With a fortune waiting for whoever could invent moving colour images, a desperate race began to be the first, with back stabbing businessmen, amazing engineering and a tragic death all involved.

Now, researchers at the National Media Museum in Bradford have made a remarkable discovery that rewrites film history. Brighton may have been the Hollywood of the Edwardian age, but the question is: who actually came first in the race for colour?

Broadcaster, journalist and film critic Antonia Quirke follows the National Media Museum's astonishing discovery, and looks back at the history of the colour film industry.

Last on

Mon 17 Sep 2012 19:30 BBC One South East, Yorkshire only

  • Video: World's first colour moving pictures discovered

    Video: World's first colour moving pictures discovered

    The world's first colour moving pictures dating from 1902 have been found by the National Media Museum in Bradford after lying forgotten in an old tin for 110 years.

    The discovery is a breakthrough in cinema history.

    Michael Harvey from the National Media Museum and Bryony Dixon from the British Film Institute talk about the importance of the discovery.

    The previous earliest colour film, using the Kinemacolour process, was thought to date from 1909 and was actually an inferior method.

    The newly-discovered films were made by pioneer Edward Raymond Turner from London who patented his colour process on 22 March 1899.

    The story of Edwardian colour cinema then moved to Brighton. Turner shot the test films in 1902 but his pioneering work ended abruptly when he died suddenly of a heart attack.

    Now the film has been restored by the National Media Museum and is being shown to audiences for the first time.

    Note: Photo courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL.

    BBC News: World's first colour moving pictures discovered
  • Earliest colour moving pictures

    Earliest colour moving pictures

    With exclusive access to the National Media Museum in Bradford, The Race for Colour follows the astonishing discovery of the earliest colour moving pictures ever made.

    The programme shows the wonder of movies in the Edwardian age and takes a look back at the history of the colour film industry.

    With a fortune waiting for whoever could transform black and white images to moving colour pictures, a desperate race began to be the first; with back stabbing businessmen, amazing engineering and a tragic death all involved.

    Now, researchers at the National Media Museum in Bradford have made a fascinating discovery that re-writes film history: unveiling the earliest colour moving picture ever made.

    The footage reveals incredible colour images of a girl on a swing, a young family, marching soldiers and a goldfish amongst many others. Museum experts date the films back to 1901/02 for these incredibly realistic images of the Edwardian age.

    The footage was made by photographer and inventor Edward Raymond Turner who patented his process. But Turner tragically died a young man, when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 29 and wasn’t recognised for his discovery; that is until now.

    Presented by broadcaster, journalist and film critic Antonia Quirke, The Race For Colour follows the National Media Museum’s astonishing discovery, and tells the story of how Brighton led the world in pioneering cinema.

    The programme includes contributions from Michael Harvey, Curator of Cinematography at the National Media Museum, as well as Brian Pritchard and David Cleveland, experts in early cinema apparatus who succeeded in getting the colour pictures developed from the original film.

    Image courtesy of National Media Museum/SSPL.

  • Michael Harvey with film and projector

    Michael Harvey with film and projector

    Michael Harvey, curator of cinematography at the National Media Museum, photographed with Lee & Turner film and projector.

    Courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL.

  • Early colour pictures

    Early colour pictures

    The colour footage had been known about for some time, but the ability to now watch it is groundbreaking.

    This is the earliest natural colour film in the world, not just the UK.

    This image of a scarlet macaw on its perch dates from 1902.

    Courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL.

  • World's first colour film footage viewed for first time

    World's first colour film footage viewed for first time

    "It's very significant indeed, it's the world's first natural colour film and the fact that it's a Brit who invented it is fantastic."

    Bryony Dixon, curator of silent film at the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archives, said the 1902 footage was of international significance for the cinema world.

    "There's something about watching film in colour that deceives you into believing it's more real, so to see this from 110 years ago adds something very substantial.

    "It's really quite beautiful."

    The films were made by Edward Raymond Turner from London who patented his colour process on 22 March, 1899. Some of the footage features Mr Turner's children in the garden of their home in Hounslow.

    Read the full story on the BBC News website below.

    BBC News: World's first colour film footage viewed for first time
  • Video: Martin Scorsese on world's first colour film discovery

    Video: Martin Scorsese on world's first colour film discovery

    Film director Martin Scorsese talks about the importance of the discovery of the world's first colour moving pictures in Bradford.

    The moving images were made by Edward Raymond Turner from London who shot them in 1902 in the 'race for the colour'.

    Scorsese has described the film discovery by the English pioneer as "something very unique and very, very special".

    The footage shows colour images of a girl on a swing, a young family, marching soldiers, a macaw and a goldfish.

    With the help of modern technology, the National Media Museum in Bradford has been able to show the images to the public for the first time.

    Watch the full video feature on the BBC News website below.

    BBC News: Martin Scorsese on world's first colour film discovery

Credits

Presenter
Antonia Quirke
Producer
Vince Rogers
Director
Vince Rogers
Executive Producer
Linda Bell

Broadcasts

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