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Curators Blog: It’s ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ this summer

photo of cinema light

23 July 2015

You may not realise it but our Cinema here at the Black Country Living Museum still plays films, cartoons and short comedies using 16mm film and projector just as it would have done in the 1920s. The only difference is that the electricity for the projector comes from the mains rather than from gas engines in a shed out the back.

16mm film was widely used until the 1990s. Now it is considered a dying format, to the point where 16mm film is described as endangered. By playing 16mm films I like to think that the Museum is contributing to keeping a little bit of history alive and bringing the audience a truly authentic cinema experience.

Using 16mm film is not all plain sailing and brings its own unique problems. Sourcing good quality film that is period appropriate and suitable for our younger audience members is a challenge. Finding reliable projectors and parts for repairs is getting harder too. But thanks to our ever-willing cinema demonstrators and radio shop volunteers, we’re able to keep the cinema alive as it was intended to be.

During our upcoming summer holiday event ‘Lights, Camera, Action! ‘ there will be six films a day on show, ranging from period short comedies to cartoons. We’ll also celebrate one of cinema’s legends as we show some classic Laurel & Hardy films to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the iconic performer, Stan Laurel.

Come and explore the history of cinema this Summer as we bring you an action-packed summer of magic, movie sets and more! Find out about our Summer Family Fun Mon 22 Jul - Sun 02 Sep.

For more information on our cinema please email Helen Taylor, Curator of Domestic & Cultural Life 

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