Caught by the River

Colour on The Thames

22nd September 2009

This film is tricky to describe: is it a boat study, a film-poem, an experiment, a picture postcard? One thing is certain: it’s a rare colour snapshot of the Thames and London in the 1930s – and it looks quite magical.

Its artistic qualities may look a bit old-fashioned to us today; the slow pace, orchestral music and moody colours definitely belong to a bygone era, strikingly peaceful and undemanding. Yet colour film was still a novelty for audiences in 1935, and the photography (using the new Gasparcolor system) succeeds in accentuating the sharp contrast between the vivid green banks of the countryside and the drab tones of the industrial landscape. (Sonia Genaitay)

‘Colour on the Thames’ is included on the BFI DVD ‘Science is Fiction / The Sounds of Science: The films of Jean Painleve’ – and available from the BFI Store.

thanks to Phil Thornton for sending this in.