British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Secrets of Nature Pioneering Natural History Films, 1922 - 1933

Synopsis
A digitally remastered collection of 19 British films made between 1922 and 1933 that used groundbreaking techniques to share the secrets of the natural world with cinema audiences. The pioneering series explored animal, plant and insect life, making wondrous worlds and natural processes visible for the first time: sweet peas unfurl in the sunlight, white owls swoop on their prey, sea life lurks on the ocean floor and moths patiently spin their cocoons. These rarely-seen films were made by enterprising men and women such as Percy Smith and Mary Field, at the forefront of science and nature filmmaking, who developed groundbreaking techniques of time-lapse, microscopic and underwater cinematography.

Individual film titles by area are:
Techniques
Fathoms Deep Beneath the Sea (1922), The Plants of the Pantry (1927), Magic Myxies (1931, The World in a Wine-glass (1931), Romance in a Pond (1932), Brewster’s Magic (1933)

Birds
The Cuckoo’s Secret (1922), The White Owl (1922), The Bittern (1931), The Nightingale (1932)

Insects
Skilled Insect Artisans (1922), The Battle of the Ants (1922), Busy Bees (1926), The Aphis (1930)

Plants
Floral Co-operative Societies (1927), Peas and Cues (1930), Scarlet Runner & Co (1930), The Strangler (1930), Gathering Moss (1933)

DVD extras: PERCY SMITH WITH HERONS (1921), an extract from the Urban Movie Chats series: one of nature filmmaking’s pioneers in the role of adoptive father;
38-page illustrated booklet featuring newly commissioned essays by leading researchers and scholars including the Science Museum’s Tim Boon, film notes, photographs and illustrations
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2010
Subjects
Biology; Film studies
Keywords
archive films; birds; insects; natural history; plants; scientific cinematography

Credits

Director
Mary Field; Percy Smith

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 2 PAL
Price
£19.99
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
200 minutes
Year
2010

Distributor

Name

BFI Video

Email
video.films@bfi.org.uk
Web
http://www.bfi.org.uk External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7957 8957
Fax
020 7957 8968
Address
21 Stephen Street
London
W1T 1LN
 

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