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Aberdeen University Quarter Centenary Celebrations (1906)


Main image of Aberdeen University Quarter Centenary Celebrations (1906)
35mm, black and white, silent, 1535 feet
Production CompanyPaul's Animatograph Works
ProducerR.W. Paul

A record of the opening of the new buildings of Marischal College, Aberdeen by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on September 27th 1906.

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A veritable epic in comparison with everything else in R.W. Paul's catalogue (certainly everything that survives), this official record of Aberdeen University's quarter-centenary celebrations, as attended by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, appears to have been a collaboration between Paul's Animatograph Works and Messrs Walker and Company, based in Bridge Street, Aberdeen.

Four cameras were used to record the events (which took place on 27 September 1906), and a contemporary account suggests that the film was returned to London overnight by train, processed on the morning of the 28th, and returned to Aberdeen for screening on the 29th, to a gathering that apparently included members of the Royal Family.

Over a century later, it's hard to see why such length was devoted to this subject (this formed part of the advertising, with Walker & Co. explicitly touting "the longest cinematogram ever known to be taken of any subject"). Thought to run some fifty minutes in the full version, the surviving copy exceeds half an hour, almost all of it devoted to recording the various processions and celebrations from a discreet distance, with no attempt made at contextualising the material either by associative editing or explanatory intertitles (though a very early shot features a floral display proclaiming what is effectively the film's title).

But to an audience in 1906, this material would have been unusually fascinating in itself, particularly for its detailed footage of the monarch. Though far from camera-shy (unlike his reclusive mother Queen Victoria, he was renowned for his sociability), there is relatively little moving-image material of him. Regular newsreels, bringing equally regular coverage of matters royal, were still a few years away.

Michael Brooke

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'R.W. Paul: The Collected Films 1895-1908', with music by Stephen Horne and optional commentary by Ian Christie.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Before the celebrations (1:41)
2. The royal party (2:54)
3. A procession (3:50)
Complete film (31:19)
A Year in Film: 1906
Paul's Animatograph Works: Longer Actualities