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Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema$
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Ian Christie

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226105628

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226610115.001.0001

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Distant Wars

Distant Wars

South Africa and Beyond

(p.145) Chapter 7 Distant Wars
Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema

Ian Christie

University of Chicago Press

The declaration of war against Britain by the Boer republics in October 1899 led to an empire-wide military mobilization, and encouraged many film producers, including Paul, to send cameras to the Cape. Realising that the results would hardly satisfy audience interest, Paul staged reproductions of typical battlefield incidents in North London, while also offering a range of patriotic and sentimental war-related films. His extended 1900 documentary Army Life was apparently intended to stimulate recruitment during the conflict, in which his own brothers served. Other distant wars that prompted production by Paul included the 1900 Boxer rebellion in China, and a series of fictional films about the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-5, reflecting widespread British support for Japan, while several films about the repression of the 1905 uprising in Russia indicated a corresponding suspicion of Britain’s old adversary.

Keywords:   war, documentary, allegory, South Africa, China, Japan, Russia

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