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The British monarchy on screen$
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Mandy Merck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099564

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.001.0001

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Sixty Years a Queen (1913): a lost epic of the reign of Victoria

Sixty Years a Queen (1913): a lost epic of the reign of Victoria

(p.47) 2 Sixty Years a Queen (1913): a lost epic of the reign of Victoria
The British monarchy on screen

Jude Cowan Montague

Manchester University Press

Before the First World War, two pioneers of the British film industry, WG Barker (Ealing Studios) and GB Samuelson, injected an unprecedented level of investment into a feature length docudrama on the life and times of Queen Victoria. Apart from a small fragment the film is lost, but a luxury souvenir book containing production stills survives. Sixty Years a Queen was released at the end of 1913 and toured the UK in the early part of 1914, to tremendous box office success. A majestic piece of national cinema, it was perfect for the point in the British market when the new purpose built picture palaces were opening all around the UK. Yet its legacy has dwindled to a footnote in histories of the feature film. Using production stills and information from trade magazines to recreate its construction, this chapter looks at tableaux from the film and discusses its debt to Victorian media, particularly the illustrated news. It will reveal Sixty Years a Queen as the most lavish example of a British film on a national theme before the First World War, the creation of an optimistic, forward thinking industry and an emotionally memorable experience for those in its audience.

Keywords:   Monarchy, Queen Victoria, Modernisation, Sixty Years a Queen, National cinema

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