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St. Kilda, Its People and Birds (1908)


Main image of St. Kilda, Its People and Birds (1908)
35mm, black and white, silent, 600 feet
DirectorOliver Pike
Production CompanyWilliamson Kinematograph Company

The human and avian cohabitants of one of Scotland's more remote islands.

Show full synopsis

This was the first film to be shot on the Hebridean island of St Kilda, and should not be confused with the later film from 1928 (St. Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle), which is more closely concerned with the population that would later be evacuated from the island forever. This earlier film was by the pioneering bird cinematographer, Oliver Pike, and focuses on the island's bird population, as well as the St Kildans' remarkable methods of snaring sea birds for food and gathering eggs from the precarious cliff face. To achieve the spectacular shots of the bird colonies and birds in flight, Pike had to develop his climbing skills, with the aid of the locals, burdened as he was with a heavy film camera. In one of many books on filming wildlife, he describes the scene with characteristic sang-froid:

"The photography of birds on cliffs and mountain slopes calls for the greatest skill, not so much as a photographer but as a climber. It is no good attempting this work unless he has a steady head and [is] able to withstand heights. The best test I know is to stand on the extreme edge of a precipice several hundred feet high and drop a stone to the sea beneath. If you can watch the stone on its journey without having a strong desire to follow it, you are fit to climb on almost any rocks."

Bryony Dixon

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (5:38)
Cliff Climbing - The Egg Harvest of Flamborough Head (1908)
Edge of the World, The (1937)
Shetland Experience, The (1977)
St. Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (1923/28)
A Year in Film: 1908