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A Night at the Cinema in 1914

Marking the centenary of the start of World War I, this glorious miscellany of comedies, adventure films, travelogues and newsreels recreates a typical night out at the cinema in 1914.

Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting and highly democratic form of entertainment. Picture houses across Britain offered a sociable, lively environment in which to relax and escape from the daily grind. With feature films still rare, the programme was an entertaining, ever-changing roster of short items with live musical accompaniment.

Among the highlights of this programme of 14 shorts films are a quirky comic short about a face-pulling competition, a sensational episode of the American film serial The Perils of Pauline, an early aviation display, scenes of suffragettes protesting at Buckingham Palace and Allied troops celebrating Christmas at the Front. There is also an anti-German animation film and an early sighting of one of cinema’s greatest icons…

The BFI has commissioned composer and pianist Stephen Horne, one of Britain’s leading accompanists of silent film, to create a new improvised score - with abundant references to music of the period - which reflects the spirit in which the films were made.

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