Films online

Below is given a guide to films produced by Charles Urban which can be viewed online, in chronological order. The links take you to the relevant videos, or you can play the embedded videos provided here. Those titles available on Screenonline can only be seen at registered UK schools, colleges and libraries.

View from an Engine Front - Barnstaple (UK 1898 p.c. Warwick Trading Company)
A 'phantom ride' taken from the front of a train passing through the Devon town of Barnstaple. Available on YouTube.

View from an Engine Front - Ilfracombe (UK 1898 p.c. Warwick Trading Company)
A 'phantom ride' taken from the front of a train passing through the Devonshire countryside. Available on YouTube.

Panorama of Calcutta (UK 1899 p.c. Warwick Trading Company)
Travelling shot along the Hooghly river, India, though the the city it shows is Varanasi (Benares), not Calcutta. Available on YouTube.

Nankin Road, Shanghai (UK 1901 p.c. Warwick Trading Company)
Street scene in Nankin filmed by Joseph Rosenthal around the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Available on YouTube.

Cheese Mites (UK 1903 p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
F. Martin Duncan's microcinematographic film of cheese mites, featuring himself as the scientist viewing the tiny creatures moving about a piece of Stilton cheese through his magnifying glass, which was the star attraction of Urban's 'Unseen World' shows. Available on BFI Player and YouTube.

Tartans of Scottish Clans / Woman Draped in Patterned Handkerchiefs (UK c.1906)
Two Kinemacolor test films, demonstrating the effects of the colour system by photographing tartans (note that this is a composite approximation of Kinemacolor, not true Kinemacolor, which can only be seen in projection). Available on YouTube.

The Streets of London (UK 1906)
An extract from one of the two parts of Urban's original four part documentary The Streets of London, an exceptionally observant view of London life. When the film was discovered by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia it was thought to be Urban's earlier film Living London (1904), and the film is still described as this on YouTube.

A Diabolo Nightmare (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Comedy about a man who brings ruin to himself through his obsession with the diabolo toy (a craze of the time). Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

Dreamland Adventures (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Fantasy where three children and their toys travel to the Arctic. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

Great Victoria Falls, Zambezi River (UK 1907 d. Joseph de Frenes p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Travelogue filmed by Joseph de Frenes as part of the Urban-Africa expedition, showing scenes around the Victoria Falls. Available from Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire.

A Juvenile Scientist (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
A young boy wreaks revenge on his parents through tricks concoted by his chemistry set. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

The Sorcerer's Scissors (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Dazzling trick film involving a pair of scissors, coloured using stencil colour. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline. An extract is freely available from the Moving History site.

A Trip through British North Borneo (UK 1907 d. H.M. Lomas p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Travelogue showing scenes of indstry in British North Borneo. Available from Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire.

When the Devil Drives (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Fantastical trick film in the Georges Georges Méliès style. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

Willie's Magic Wand (UK 1907 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
A boy takes his father's magic wand and causes special effects chaos. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

The Airship Destroyer (UK 1909 d. Walter Booth p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
Proto-science fiction with Britain invded by bomb-dropping airships. Available to all from BFI Player and on the Internet Archive, and to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

A Dash to the North Pole (UK 1909 p.c. Kineto)
Fragments from an original film of the 1903-05 William Ziegler North Pole expedition, led by Anthony Fiala. The filmed was re-issued by Urban in 1909. Available on YouTube.

To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly (UK 1909 d. Percy Smith p.c. Kineto)
Use of an animated model spiders to demonstrate how it spins a web. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

Glasgow and the Clyde Coast (UK 1909 p.c. Kineto)
Travel film to Scotland, sponsored by the London & North Western Railway. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline. A clip from a 1912 reissue version is available on the Scottish Screen Archive site.

Pageant of Romney, Hythe and Sandwich (UK 1910 d. G.A. Smith p.c. Natural Color Kinematograph Company)
Kinemacolor record of a pageant held in the Kent towns celebrating their past. The film was not released owing to errors in the colour photography (note that this is a composite approximation of Kinemacolor, not true Kinemacolor, which can only be seen in projection). Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

The Acrobatic Fly (UK 1910 p.c. Kineto)
A re-issue version of The Balancing Bluebottle (1908), where flies perform extraordinary tricks, juggling corks, miniature dumbells, and most startlingly a ball with another fly on top. Available on YouTube.

The Birth of a Flower (UK 1910 p.c. Kineto)
A famous time-lapse study of flowers filmed by Percy Smith, shown here with colour tinting. Available on WildFilmHistory.

A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner (UK 1910 p.c. Kineto)
Documentary (with dramatic elements) on the coal mining industry in Wigan, Lancashire. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

Aerial Submarine (UK 1910 d. Walter Booth p.c. Kineto)
Another ingenious piece of science-fiction from Walter Booth, in which two children are kidnapped by a priate submarine which can also fly. Available via BFI Player.

The Automatic Motorist (UK 1911 d. Walter Booth p.c. Kineto)
Walter Booth again, with a delightfully inventive comic fantasy in which a robot driver takes a newly-wed couple to the Moon and Saturn. Available via BFI Player and YouTube.

S.S. Olympic (UK 1911 p.c. Kineto)
A short section from a spectacular record documenting the construction of S.S. Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic (the copy of the film in the BFI has German titles, which is why they've published just this 67-second section - the original is 5-6 minutes). Available on YouTube.

The Strength and Agility of Insects (UK 1911 p.c. Kineto)
A further retitled and reissued version of The Balancing Bluebottle (see The Acrobatic Fly above), plus other similarly dextrous animals, including a scorpion, an ant and a grasshopper. Available on WildFilmHistory.

Nubia, Wadi Halfa and the Second Cataract (UK 1911 p.c. Natural Color Kinematograph Company)
A fine example of mature Kinemacolor - a travelogue showing Nubian people and Western tourist along the River Nile. Available on Europa Film Treasures (which gives the title of the film as Rive del Nilo/Banks of the Nile). [Note: no longer available]

An Otter Study (UK 1912 p.c. Kineto)
Natural history film including scenes of an otter swimming underwater and of the camera team setting up its tank enabling the filming to take place. Available on YouTube.

(Animated Circus Dolls) (UK c.1912-13 p.c. Natural Color Kinematograph Company)
Kinemacolor stop-frame animation film, showing circus dolls performing tricks. Shown without the Kinemacolor colour effect. Possibly a test film rather than a commercial release.

Montego Bay to Williamsfield, Jamaica (UK 1913 p.c. Kineto)
Train journey through Jamaica, showing landscapes and local industries. Available from Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire.

Britain Prepared (UK 1915 p.c. Gaumont/Jury's/Urban)
Documentary featured on Britain's war preparedness, showing army training, shipbuilding, munitions workers, and the Royal Navy at sea. Available from the Imperial War Museum

Fight for the Dardenelles (UK 1915 d. Percy Smith p.c. Kineto)
Rudimentary but imaginative animation used to explain military manouevres in the Dardanelles. Available to UK schools, colleges and libraries only through Screenonline.

The Battle of the Somme (UK 1916 ph. J.B. McDowell/Geoffrey Malins p.c. British Topical Committe for War Films)
The greatest film with which Urban was associated, the documentary feature recording the battle of the Somme in 1916, filmed by J.B. McDowell and Geoffrey Malins and edited by Urban and Malins for release by the government-sanctioned British Topical Committe for War Films. Available from the Imperial War Museum.

Oyster Fishing in Whitstable, England (USA 1920 p.c. Kineto Company of America)
Originally a pre-World World War film (the date is unclear), the film was re-issued in America as part of the Charles Urban Movie Chats series. Urban himself can be see towards the end sampling oysters on Whitstable beach. Available on YouTube.

The Four Seasons (USA 1921 p.c. Kineto Company of America)
A pioneering natural history documentary feature, filmed for Urban by Raymond Ditmars, showing the changes in nature over the four seasons. Available in downloadable form under a CC licence from Open Images (copy has Dutch intertitles).