This Film Reel from 1902 May Be the World's Oldest Colour Footage

By Andrew Liszewski on at

The oldest known colour film footage has long been traced to a reel from 1909. But that was before Michael Harvey, the curator of cinematography at the National Media Museum in England, discovered an old forgotten tin in the museum's archives. After examining the stock, Harvey discovered it was actually colour test footage dating all the way back to 1902. That makes it officially the oldest colour footage in the world—or, at least, the oldest that anyone in the world knows about.

The short clips were captured by Edward Raymond Turner, who actually patented a colour film process a few years earlier, in 1899. And while the footage of soldiers marching, exotic parrots, and even Turner's three kids are fairly mundane, they're bound to become iconic images in the history of filmmaking.

Unfortunately, while Turner's early work led to the development of more successful colour film processes a few years later, he passed away in 1903, at the age of 29. His family was never able to profit from his work. But these clips have now been digitised for archival purposes. So hopefully his descendants get help Turner get overdue credit. They can, at least, watch the clips when they become a Special Limited Collectors' Blu-ray Edition. [BBC via PetaPixel]