Free: British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube


British Pathé is considered to be the finest newsreel and documentaries archive in the world, with its collection to enumerate over 85,000 films unrivalled in their historical and cultural significance, that are available on YouTube.

The archive — which covers from 1896 to 1976 – is a truly goldmine of footage, containing shots of the most significant moments of the last 100 years. It’s a treasure trove for film freaks, culture nerds and history maniacs across the globe. In Pathé’s golden playlist “A Day That Shook the World,” which traces an Anglo-centric history of the 20th Century, you will find clips of the bombing of Hiroshima, Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and footage of Queen Victoria’s funeral. There’s, also, a footage of the shocking Hindenburg crash and the magic moment of Wright Brothers’ first flight . Turning points of the global history like Hitler’s first speech upon becoming the German Chancellor in 1933 and the eventual Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 (above) are also part of the enormous collection of British Pathé.

However, the really fascinating part of the archive is watching all the ephemera from the 20th Century, the stuff that narrate the past and makes history alive – the weird hairstyles, the way a city street looked, the breathtakingly casual sexism and racism. For example, the documentary below, from 1967, describes the wonders to be found in the vintaged beauty Virginia.

Here’s a film about a technological innovation that didn't finally succeeded — an amphibious scooter.

Another footage from 1942 of Bess Truman trying to smash an unbreakable bottle of champaign against the fuselage of a brand new bomber, is so funny, even then politicians had their embarrassing moments.

And then there’s this newsreel from 1938 on the wedding between Billy Curtis, a 3’7” nightclub bouncer and his 6’4” burlesque star bride. The commentary is just fabulous.

With over 85,000 films, there are endless hours of diving into the past century, learning, entertaining, laughing or even crying with the chronicles of a world that it really isn't too far.

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