Hyde Park Corner (partially found early celluloid actuality film; 1889)

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Possible film frames found as part of the Jonathan Silent Film Collection

Status: Partially found

Hyde Park Corner (also known as Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses) is an 1889 silent actuality film produced by inventor and film pioneer William Friese-Greene. The film depicts life at Hyde Park Corner in London. Hyde Park Corner is claimed to be the first film set in London, as well as the first to be filmed on celluloid.

Background[edit | edit source]

In 1888, photographer William Friese-Greene began experimenting with celluloid. Prior to that, photographic materials often utilised glass plates. While paper with photographic chemicals were used, these proved unpopular compared to glass plates. However, celluloid, which had existed since the 1850s, began to receive traction upon the invention of flexible film, and was beginning to be viewed as an alternative to glass plates. Friese-Greene's experiments led to him inventing and patenting a chronophotographic camera in 1889. The camera utilised celluloid film, and with it could take ten photographs per second.[1]

Friese-Greene's experiments led him to take several photographs of Apsley Gate's surroundings near Hyde Park Corner, which were used for the film. Exactly when he took the photographs is disputed; The Royal Parks and Stuff About London claimed he did so in January 1889.[2][3] However, Science Museum Group states he took the photographs in October that same year.[4] Regardless, the film was completed in 1889, and was first shown to a public audience at Chester Town Hall in July 1890. While the film is not the first to ever be made, with Louis Le Prince's Roundhay Garden Scene being recorded in 1888, it is claimed to be the first celluloid film in existence as well as presenting the first moving pictures in London.

Ultimately, Hyde Park Corner was not positively received in 1890. Since flickering imagery can only be perceived by the human brain as one fluid moving frame from about 16 frames per second, the low 10 frames per second of the chronophotographic camera was deemed to be the cause of the underwhelming audience reaction. Additionally, some film historians dispute the time frame of the film's recording, claiming that these projections could not have been possible during this time period.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Hyde Park Corner is now considered a lost film. Some people have uploaded videos of what they claim to be Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses, but ultimately these are reuploads of 1896 film Piccadilly Circus.[5] Nevertheless, some film frames may have resurfaced as part of the Jonathan Silent Film Collection.[6] Six photos have been recovered, depicting a man and a child walking in Hyde Park, with what appears to be Marble Arch in the background. As of now, they are the only known possible remnants of the film.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Possible photos of the film shown in sequence.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]