Victorians on Film: Entertainment, Innovation and Everyday Life

Explore the everyday lives of Victorians, captured by the early pioneers of film

Victorians on Film: Entertainment, Innovation and Everyday Life brings together an essential library of rich film content from the British Film Institute (BFI) in one easily navigable platform.

Capturing  unique view of the lives of Victorians at the dawn of cinema, from workers at the factory gates to royalty and other dignitaries,these films showcase the inventiveness and artistry of the medium's pioneers in its earliest stages. 

From well-known films by leading names such as Mitchell and Kenyon, to lesser-knowntitles, the material represents the most extensive collection of films from the era.

This must-have collection offers insight into the experimental work of early filmmakers in creating news, animation, drama, and special effects, as well as providing an invaluable exploration into how Victorians went about their day-to-day activities from their work to their leisure time.

Key Data


  • The British Film Institute’s complete Victorian Film Collection showcasing the dawn of British filmmaking

  • The extraordinary collection of filmmaking pioneers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
  • Films charting the development of film technologies from the Victorian age through the Edwardian period 

  • Comic film shorts, showcasing a range of innovations, as film makers experimented with illusion and editing including the famous ‘big gulp’ film where the subject ‘swallows’ the camera and camera man

  • Everyday life in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, documented via the most extensive collection of actuality films in the world

  • The leisure and sporting lives of the age captured in films of football and rugby matches, performing gymnasts, military sports days, the Cambridge and Oxford boat race, athletics, and horseracing

  • Films of Queen Victoria, on procession or at home in Balmoral, as well as other members of the royal family

  • Films documenting key moments in Britain’s imperial history, with footage of military leaders and military operations, as well as clips recreating moments of victory and defeat in the Boer War

  • Several scientific films including solar eclipses and the very first film of an x-ray.

Key themes

  • Entertainment
  • Everyday life
  • Film techniques and technology
  • Leisure and sports
  • Industry and work
  • Royalty and celebrity
  • Science and engineering

Supporting Material