Robert Who? Rediscovering Britain's Forgotten Film Pioneer

Robert Who? Rediscovering Britain's Forgotten Film Pioneer

Cinema Innovators


Please note: This event took place in July 2019

If you’ve never heard of Robert Paul, don’t worry. Surprisingly few people, even among film fanatics, know much about him. Yet more than anyone, he was responsible for launching cinema in Britain, back in the 1890s. Not just ‘moving pictures’ – many pioneers contributed to their invention, including Bristol’s very own William Friese-Greene.

But Paul didn’t only make and sell the first equipment and films in Britain, he also supplied half the world, and built the first studio in 1898. He realised film had to move on from just showing things moving. ‘The capacity of animated pictures for producing Breathless Sensation, Laughter and Tears has hardly been realised’, his advertisement claimed for what the studio had been producing that Autumn, and he went on to create much of what we still take for granted in movies. So why isn’t he known alongside names like Lumière and Edison?

Join renowned British film scholar Professor Ian Christie for an illustrated talk unpacking the hidden history of Paul's neglect, arguing that his pioneering example should be recognised today to inspire us in this age of digital media, and for a chance to see some his surviving works. To celebrate Paul’s 150th birthday, Christie has also produced a graphic novel, Time Traveller: Robert Paul and the Invention of Cinema which will be on sale at the event.

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