Calling all fans of archive curios and cults-in-the-making: Pandora’s Box is the Mediatheque’s dip into the world of the odd, the esoteric, the delightful – and the downright dangerous. Since its launch in March 2007, Pandora’s Box has remained among the most popular collections in the Mediatheque, and for many new visitors provides an addictive introduction to the surprising and often bizarre world of archive film.
The regular appearance of Edwardian favourite The Acrobatic Fly (1910) in Mediatheque top-ten polls indicates a certain morbid fascination among viewers, while those on the look-out for famous faces have relished the rare colour Audrey Hepburn Test (1953), RNIB appeal Another World by Sean Connery (1962), and The Crane (1992), starring a startlingly youthful Jude Law.
Pandora’s Box is a growing collection – new additions have included bunny-bombing Nazis, time-lapse toenails in full fungal glory, 1920s country house frolics filmed by the creator of Peter Pan, not to mention the vocal stylings of the Don Cossack Choir. Go on – take a peek.
Nine to try
The Yellow Week at Stanway (1923)
JM Barrie’s whimsical home-movie record of a summer house party in the Cotswolds.
C O D – A Mellow Drama (1929)
Mischievous experimental short made by moonlighting film studio technicians.
The Tocher (1938)
The ‘wee folk’ help a man woo his true love in Lotte Reiniger’s animated ‘film ballet’.
Once We Were Four (Secrets of Life) (1942)
Innocent bunnies face an onslaught of badgers, bombs and birds of prey in this black comedy masquerading as a nature film.
River Folk (Songs of the Organ) (1944)
Let the organist at Hounslow’s Ambassador Cinema take you on a musical journey with ‘Ya Vass Lublu’ and ‘Song of the Volga’.
Oliver Twist Casting Appeal (1946)
Anthony Wager (young Pip in Great Expectations) urges other boys to audition for David Lean’s next Dickens masterpiece.
Time-Lapse Study of Nail Growth (1960)
Serious scientific study or long-lost avant-garde body horror? You decide.
All in Good Time (1964)
Look out for a fresh-faced Richard Briers in Guinness’ curious experiment in product-placement, set in a ‘typically English pub’.
The Claims of Metaphysics (1976)
A rarely-seen interview with influential British philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer.