Beginning in 1924, cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene borrowed a flash convertible and traveled across the UK with his new color film camera, filming the sights.
He ended his 840-mile road trip in London, the subject of Virginia Woolf’s six essays included in The London Scene, originally published in Good Housekeeping magazine beginning in December 1931 and published as a collection in 1981.
In the capitol city, Claude Friese-Greene filmed some stunning images using a unique experimental color process developed with his father. His plan was to produce a series of 26 ten-minute British travelogues, to be shown before the feature film at cinemas. After just a few screenings at trade fairs, though, Friese-Greene abandoned the project.
After his death in 1943, his footage for The Open Road, shot between 1924 and 1926, was donated to the National Film and Television Archive. It was later revived and restored by the BFI. The BBC then used it to produce a three-part documentary with the BFI titled The Lost World of Friese-Greene. News of Friese-Greene’s beautiful footage went viral early last year.
Now videographer Simon Smith has attempted to capture all of Friese-Green’s London shots by standing in his footsteps and using modern equipment. His personal study reveals how little London has changed. Special thanks to @sideshow_val for sending Blogging Woolf the tip about the 2013 version of the London footage.
And here is a 19-second clip of Friese-Greene’s footage filmed in Woolf’s beloved St. Ives, Cornwall.