History, Politics & Society
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The early days of cinema certainly weren’t black and white, and if the films were silent, the audiences were anything but.
This spellbinding book reveals just what was seen – and heard, and said – in the picture houses of Britain at that time.
It is a gaudy, raucous, rancorous, glorious world.
And it is the world into which Five Nights emerged.
Hugely controversial, and the subject of a bitter court case, that film hasn’t been seen for a hundred years. But in these pages it comes to life again.
Drawing on long-forgotten documents, David Hewitt reconstructs the film and places it in a setting of his own creation, in the process holding up a kaleidoscope from a different age.
There are actors and actresses here, film producers and film directors. But there are suffragettes and Zeppelins as well, Pimple and Winky, Chinese women – both real and imagined – and countless men trying to make you think they are Charlie Chaplin.
This is a heady world, where everyone speaks at once and a young woman can direct a film of her own. But anyone can lose everything at the whim of a constable or a magistrate – or at the hands of an angry mob.
It is a world of eyots and dulcitones, psalterium, imortelles and bhang.
You might think it a familiar world, but it has surely never seemed so strange.
The author, David Hewitt, can be found on his Twitter handle: @historycalled
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