Opening up The Magic Box

27 Jul

In 1951, Robert Donat was at the head of a star-studded cast in the British film industry’s contribution to the Festival of Britain, The Magic Box, portraying cinema pioneer William Friese-Greene. Although it’s an underrated film, it has inspired film makers like Martin Scorsese (as we explored on this site previously). Not only has the film been underrated, but many believe its subject has too.

As part of #BristolFilm2021, film director and historian Peter Domankiewicz is raising the profile of William Friese-Greene in the centenary year of his death. Cinema Rediscovered has teamed up with Bristol Ideas and South West Silents to present Opening up the Magic Box, a celebration of several parts.

From the Watershed website:

“There’s an opportunity to watch the all-star 1951 biopic, The Magic Box and listen to insights from Peter Domankiewicz and arts historian Sir Christopher Frayling, who have each contributed a chapter on the rediscovery of Friese-Greene for a new Bristol Ideas book of essays published this autumn. #BristolFilm2021

Always looking to the future, Friese-Greene created some of the earliest colour film systems, leading to his son Claude capturing 1920s Britain in colour in The Open Road, which will screen with a live accompaniment from world famous composer and musician Neil Brand.”

The Magic Box screening takes place on Sunday August 1 at 11.00am. To book, here’s a link. Follow that up on the same day by attending Peter Domankiewicz and Christopher Frayling: Who was William Friese-Greene? at 14.00. Peter tells me what makes The Magic Box so significant is the way Robert captures Friese-Greene. It is indeed time to do both men justice.

William Friese-Greene photographed in c.1890

Do follow Peter Domankiewicz at Twitter for more news on the project.

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