Art + Architecture | 1950 | Sound | Colour
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London's art and galleries.
The film begins with a long shot of the front entrance to the British Museum, London. Six people are on or approaching the stairs to the entrance. The camera pans left showing an information board titled; Enjoying Your London. Half of the board is covered in writing the other half in pictures, including a suit of armour, a Greek vase and a black duck or swan. The film cuts to a second information board called London's Past. This board includes a photograph of a full length statue of Queen Victoria. Cut to two close-up and one full shot of a third information board which shows train destinations of historic interest around England. Above each destination is an illustration (watercolour) of the attraction. Included are; Warwick Castle, York Cathedral, Dryburgh Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral and Stratford-on-Avon. The camera pans left and shows a routemaster RM London bus and an old black cab crossing a bridge. In the background are the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben covered in scaffolding and material. The shot continues panning left and shows a fourth information board which has on it an early tube map. Over these images the narrator informs the viewer of the historic sites which can be seen. He then adds: "Let's chose, say, Dr Johnson's England. Starting in London, let's travel back 200 years in time." The camera fades into a shot of a painting by William Hogarth (1697-1764). The shot pans from the left to the right of the painting and shows many of the various characters of London life at the time. Eight still and panned shots of similar Hogarth paintings follow. Cut to a still shot of a wall or end of a corridor of a country house. There are several small fur trees along the walls, light shines through a patterned window and a painting hangs on the end wall. The painting is by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) and shows a woman wearing a pink dress with white lace edging and a flat yellow hat with white satin ribbon. She also wears large circular earrings and a pearl necklace. A still shot of the top half, head to waist, of the painting, a close-up of her face and the brim of her hat, a panned shot showing the pink satin and patterned lace of her dress, her hand with thick black bracelet and large frilly lace cuff and satin sleeve follow.
The film cuts to a shot of a decorative door along a corridor in the house, patterned red wallpaper and a carved door surround are also visible. In this shot there is also a shadow of a person, a woman dressed up as in the painting, who walks towards the door. Cut to a shot of her hand and arm as she opens the door, she is dressed exactly as the woman in the painting. Over this part of the film is played a quote from Gainsborough on his death bed to Sir Joshua Reynold's; "We're all going to Heaven and van Dyck is at the party." The film cuts to a long shot, from one end to the other, of a long gallery/drawing room. It has a decorative ceiling , a window on either side(only the light visible in the frame), a fireplace on the left and numerous chairs down both walls. Cut to a close-up shot of the area surrounding the fireplace, built in bookcases with leather bound books, chairs and a chaise longe are also visible. Towards the end of this shot the shadow of the woman's head and hat cross over the fireplace. Nine still and panned shots follow of the decoration in various parts of the house. (Syon House in Isleworth). These shots include decorative painted areas, patterned and painted ceilings, sculptures and statues. Over these images is played a quote from the Duchess (the woman in the painting), from a letter she wrote to one of her friends about the workmen who upgraded certain areas of the house. The film cuts to thirteen shots which show ten small porcelain/china figures of various dress and character. There are close-up, full-length and rotational shots in which the figure stands on a rotational base. Over these images a job advertisement, once aimed at the men decorated similar figures is read out. The techniques of china painting, enamelling and japanning are mentioned. Cut to a panned shot of a wooden table on which sits an old map and various travel/exploration implements, including a brass/bronze circular, hollow globe showing star systems/planetary movement. Cut to a full-shot, to close-up, of an old map which shows two areas of writing and three islands. A close-up shot of a small area of writing follows; by James Cook, 1763. Cut to a close-up shot, panning out, of a painted portrait of Cook. Then to a close-up, panning out, shot of a painting, showing mountains in the background and native people in boats in the foreground. Over these two paintings is played a quote from a Cook letter. Cut to a close-up of the south south west area of a compass as it turns slightly from side to side. The film then cuts to three shots of an oil painting showing a sea or storm scape. A boat is being tossed around by huge waves. Cut to a long shot of Greenwich Maritime Museum, trees and grass in the foreground. Cut to film of Tower Bridge, half open, St. Paul's Cathedral is just visible in the background. Cut to a shot of a self-portrait of W.Hogarth, zooms in to a close-up of his face. Cut to a close-up, panned shot of another Hogarth painting which shows six portraits, three women, two men and a young boy as a group on the same canvas. The camera rests on each individual portrait, then on the whole painting. Cut to a long shot(film) of a white bridge over the River Thames, St Paul's Cathedral is visible in the background. The film ends with four still, close-up shots of four carved, sculptured bronze heads.
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