BFI’s Britain on Film has created an interactive map, which showcases archive films from all around the country. It is part of the project “Britain on Film” where 2500 films from the BFI archives have been made available to the public. Previously these digitalised archives could only be viewed at the BFI and were often only used for academic purposes.
The idea is to type in your location and all the films relating to your local area will pop up on the map. It is also possible to narrow your search down by decade and by a selection of subjects such as “Agriculture”, “Street Scenes”, “Markets” etc…
With 2500 films the map is still limited in its geographical outreach. However they are looking to expand the number of films to 10,000 by 2017.
Nonetheless the database has an impressive range from amateur films, newsreels, public service documentaries, travelogues, fiction films and a wide variety of others. Films such as ‘Old Norse Viking Festival’ set in 1927, Scotland gives us an odd impression of villagers dressed up as Vikings. Or the 1911 film “Motoring Over Ben Nevis”, a car ascending 1,344 meters of Ben Nevis as part of a Ford publicity stunt to showcase that American cars were more than a match for the handcrafted British cars.
It is an incredible project and an easily accessible and appealing way for people to engage with these films on a personal level. So make sure to check it out – if nothing else it is great for procrastination.