For all lovers of film Saturday 4 January 2014 marks a special occasion as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of George Albert Smith.
Although this momentous event took place in London, Smith spent most of his life in the Brighton & Hove area. His various occupations make an exotic list – hypnotist, psychic, magic lanternist, astronomer and inventor – but it is his pioneering film work that has left a lasting mark today.
Inspired by the Lumière brothers, Smith took up film making. He experimented with editing and close-up shots, techniques now taken for granted in the modern world.
He used superimposition and reversing to create ghostly and other special effects right from the early days of filmmaking.
Together with Charles Urban, Smith presented the first commercially successful colour film process known as Kinemacolor. In 2010 Brighton Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition Capturing Colour which charted the discovery and development of colour film with Kinemacolor featured as one of the key chapters in this quest.
Unfortunately a court battle over a patent suit led to Smith’s ruin, ending his promising film career in 1914. However during the 1940s he finally began to gain the recognition he deserved, eventually becoming a Fellow of the British Film Academy in 1955. He died in Brighton on 17 May 1959 at the grand age of 95.
Why not drop in to Hove Museum’s Film gallery on Saturday and wish George a Happy 150th Birthday? This permanent display charts the history of moving images, from lantern slides and optical toys to early film. You can see the kind of equipment George Albert Smith would have used and then sit in our mini cinema and watch the films he made.
Alexia Lazou, Collections Assistant