1 November 2006
Imperial War Museum - 16mm colour films of the Far East
An outstanding collection of 174 colour films centred on the Allied victory over the Japanese in Burma as well as the events and major figures in India’s victorious struggle for Independence is now available from the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive.
The films were shot on 16mm by a gifted amateur cameraman and British Colonel, Frank Hodgkinson, and have been meticulously researched and catalogued by a former UEA Film Archiving graduate Louisa Trott. Hodgkinson obviously enjoyed the full confidence of the Supreme Commander South East Asia Command, and later Viceroy of India, Admiral Louis Mountbatten, and so was often able to film from privileged positions beyond the normal reach of even the most daring newsreel cameraman.
The reels, some edited and others rushes, cover many of the key political moments, as well as enduring problems, in the modern history of Burma and India. Burma’s return to British civil administration, the distinct existence of the Shan and other non-Burmese peoples enclosed within Burma’s British-drawn boundaries, and the presumed funeral of the nationalist leader Aung San in 1947 are covered in great detail, often in unusual close-up. Hindu ceremonies in an Indian princely state (Rewa), Kashmir’s beautiful but unsettled position, Gandhi’s funeral, Lord and Lady Mountbatten at Government House and witnessing the aftermath of the communal violence which accompanied the birth of Pakistan and India, and Nehru’s first cabinet, are just some of the highlights of the collection.
Hodgkinson knew and clearly loved the East, and on his return to England in the 1950s used to present and commentate these films at local screenings in that pre-colour television world. As well as commemorating the life of a fine cameraman, his films record a turning point in British imperial history, once shared by many and now ready for rediscovery today.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Acquisitions and Documentation Curator
Imperial War Museum, Film & Video Archive
Paul Sargent ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Jane Fish ( email@example.com )
Corinna Reicher ( firstname.lastname@example.org )