BFI Puts Archives Online For Free

By James O Malley on at

The British Film Institute has today launched a new "Britain On Film" website featuring thousands of films from its own archive, as well as the National Archive from the last hundred years.

If you go to the BFI Player website you can view films on a map, as well as search by location, decade and topic. And it makes for fascinating viewing. I put in my old home town and found a film from 1921 of the town's war memorial being unveiled, and a film from 1956 of one of the town's largest factories celebrating its centenary. What's brilliant is that you can watch them all for free.

One of the highlights is footage from 1927's "Old Norse Viking Festival" in Scotland - which featured a whole village dressed up as Vikings, complete with longboat.

It is an absolutely fascinating archive - and it must have taken ages to get all of the films digitised with the correct meta-data, but it is a truly important thing for the BFI to have done. It is also a good example of how, umm, acceptable language has subtly changed. On the BFI Player you can also watch The Clangers' Election Special (!)

According to Culture24, by 2017 10,000 film and TV titles dating back as far as 1895 will have been digitised.

So go check it out - and prepare to lose the rest of the day to just clicking through the archive. [Culture24]