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Invaders, The (1909)

British Film Institute

Main image of Invaders, The (1909)
35mm, black & white, 600 feet, silent
DirectorPercy Stow
Production CompanyClarendon Film Company

A group of foreign invaders occupy the house of a girl because it is in a strategic position but she sends a pigeon with a message to the territorials who rout the invaders.

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This film was probably inspired by William Le Queux's book The Invasion of 1910 or by the invasion literature of the time. British xenophobia and the apparent ease with which spies and foreign troops wander over the British countryside are clearly shown. The invaders are shown disguised as Jewish tailors, reflecting fears of the large-scale immigration of eastern European Jews which had led to the Aliens Act of 1905. Other soldiers, disguised as female tourists, are also shown entering the country with ease, as is their artillery, disguised as imported machinery.

Le Queux's book was finally turned into a film in August 1913, under the title The Raid of 1915, but was not released until October 1914, re-titled If England Were Invaded.

Ironically, the NFTVA's copy of this film has German inter-titles, (as does the same year's The Peril of the Fleet), and the heroine becomes Dora Schmidt. While Germany was undoubtedly seen as Britain's main rival (in terms of naval and commercial power, as well as in international relations), the film companies were not averse to increasing profits by distributing in Germany. Typically, the origin of the invaders is not identified in the film (unlike the literature, in which the nationality of spies and invaders depended on the international tensions of the time).

Simon Baker

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (8:35)
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Stow, Percy (1876-1919)
A Year in Film: 1909
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