The earliest colour moving pictures ever made have been unveiled in Bradford.
The National Media Museum in the city is displaying the vivid images from its collection for the first time in over a hundred years.
These films were made by photographer and inventor Edward Turner using a process he patented with his financial backer Frederick Lee in 1899. Experts at the Museum have dated the films to 1901/2, making these the earliest examples of colour moving pictures in existence.
Lee and Turner’s invention has always been regarded by film historians as a practical failure but it has now been ‘unlocked’ through digital technology, revealing the images produced by the process for the first time in over a hundred years. It’s also a story of young death and commercial intrigue in the earliest days of the film industry.
On discovering the film, Michael Harvey, Curator of Cinematography at the National Media Museum worked with film archive experts Brian Pritchard and David Cleveland to reconstruct the moving footage in colour following the precise method laid out in Lee and Turner’s 1899 patent. They turned to experts at the BFI National Archive who were able to undertake the delicate work of transforming the film material into digital files, and so the team were able to watch these vivid colour moving pictures for the first time, over one hundred years since they had been made.
The public can see the Lee and Turner footage for the first time in more than one hundred years as part of a free display, at the National Media Museum in Bradford.