Film Style: The Open Road (1926)

The pre-colour days of the 1920s are often best understood visually through modern films or colour illustrations. The usually blurry, monochrome photographs and films of that period are not very helpful for looking at details, and often it  actually makes it even harder to imagine how things must have been compared to using imagination alone. I was therefore extremely pleased to find this BFI film of the 1920s in colour, made by a man named Claude Friese-Greene travelling around the British Isles in 1924-26 with his home-invented colour film technique.

The Open Road was originally shown in cinemas as a series, with each segment dedicated to a different part of the country. He travels through places like Cornwall, Wales, the Lakes District, Blackpool, Scotland and London, with no commentary other than occasional blocks of text (this was pre-talkie days). It was really engrossing and brought things to life so much more than a black and white film – particularly as these are simple scenes of every day people going about their lives rather than a Hollywood studio trying to tell a dramatic story.

A 1920s roller coaster at Blackpool. This looked perilous.
Children at the seaside


1920s bathers


A policeman strolling along London’s Southbank
Marble Arch in London
A roadside picnic
Friendly bobby
A fishing village in Scotland
An old petrol station. See the BP and Shell signs?