Around China with a Movie Camera – Beijing to Shanghai, 1900 – 1948

Exploring 50 years of Chinese history across a diverse range of footage from 1900 – 1948, the collection includes what might be the oldest surviving film to be shot in China which remained unseen for 115 years. Also to be seen is Shanghai’s bustling, cosmopolitan Nanjing Road in 1900, the Great World Amusement Park in 1929 and a day at the Shanghai races in 1937. Wander the streets around the Qianmen, Beijing, in 1910. Cruise Hangzhou’s picturesque canals in 1925. Visit China’s great cities including Hong Kong, Chongqing and Guangzhou and visit remote villages in Hunan and Yunnan provinces.

China Today (1936) -1 copy

Modern China (1910) -3 copy

Take a trip back to China in the first half of the twentieth century with this BFI presentation of extraordinary, rare and beautiful travelogues, newsreels and home movies.

These films – all from the collection preserved in the BFI National Archive – were made by a wealth of British and French filmmakers, from professionals to intrepid tourists, colonial-era expatriates and Christian missionaries.

Special features

  • Modern China (1910, 8 mins): extraordinary views of life and landscape in Beijing filmed during the last years of China’s Qing dynasty
  • Homework and Street Scenes in China (1907, 7 mins): intimate vignettes of artisans, vagrants and labourers on the streets of the late Qing-dynasty of China
  • Illustrated booklet with an essay by curator Edward Anderson; biography and essay about the music by Ruth Chan
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