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Mitchell and Kenyon: Private Ward V.C. Leeds Hero (1901)


Main image of Mitchell and Kenyon: Private Ward V.C. Leeds Hero (1901)
Mitchell and Kenyon 585: Ralph Pringle Interviewing Private Ward, V.C., Leeds Hero
35mm, black and white, silent, 75 feet
Production CompanyMitchell and Kenyon
Commissioned byRalph Pringle

An 'interview' with Private C. Ward (Yorkshire Light Infantry) winner of the Victoria Cross in the Boer War 1900.

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Mr. Ralph Pringle, the 'stand alone' showman exhibitor of the North American Animated Photo Company, had a long and lucrative business relationship with Blackburn-based filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon between 1901 and 1907. He commissioned this pioneering partnership to shoot around 170 of the 800 surviving titles in the collection. This association produced an output exceeding that of any other showmen who collaborated with Mitchell and Kenyon.

There are many examples in the collection of showmen captured in shot directing the crowds past the camera or 'constructing' the drama. This item is unique because it even features Pringle himself conducting an interview.

Shot in February 1901, the interviewee, Private Charles Ward, was an ordinary man from Leeds who became a local hero on his return from the Boer War. He had risked his own life and been wounded in crossing enemy lines for reinforcements (receiving, for his efforts, the last Victoria Cross awarded by the Queen herself). Pringle must have recognised the tremendous value of this newfound local celebrity, who ultimately guaranteed him a large income-generating audience of proud locals.

It is only after thorough and detailed research - carried out by many - that the significance of these key players has been identified and the film's true value uncovered. Interest, understanding and meaning have emerged from the study of what at first seems a couple of static shots, with a rather scruffy backdrop and silent dialogue.

Rebecca Vick

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Mitchell and Kenyon 585 (2:09)
Mitchell and Kenyon