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15th October 2012

Manchester in Film

A look, through archive footage, at Manchester in the last century
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TLDR

A real treat for those fans of history and cinema came with the feature Manchester in Film. Essentially a collection of some of the most fascinating stories in Manchester’s history captured on film. This screening was a product of tireless editing by the North West Film Archive which, for over 30 years, has been responsible for the preservation and restoration of over 36,000 items, from the pioneer days of film in the mid-1890s, to the present day.

The feature began with a film made in 1914 intended to show a day in the life of Manchester’s finest. One shot shows a police constable walking near Deansgate Locks following his evening patrol, likely gazing at a property which will a century later be graced by Vodka Revolutions.

We are shown Manchester in the aftermath of its Blitz in 1941, often overlooked due to London’s bombings but still showing a devastating impact. Historical buildings and landmarks stand decapitated and lie in rubble, whilst a defiant narrator holds firm that the people of Manchester stay united and strong against Hitler’s army.

Jumping forward twenty years we see the historic visit of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, during his world tour. Arriving at Manchester into its miserable rain and wind, Yuri refuses to enter a roofed car and chooses to be driven round open top to wave to ecstatic crowds who have flooded into the streets to greet him. At a speech he proclaims Manchester is the greatest city he has been to on his world tour! And the crowd goes wild.

The final time jump comes to a sweltering summer in the 1970’s. All the swagger and style which made Manchester one of the coolest cities of the time radiates, as flared jeans, long hair and big moustaches populate the streets. The look of the BBC series Life On Mars is brought to mind, and perhaps this is the first time the city bears some resemblance to what it is today. The narrator makes a timely statement that Manchester’s universities are some of the fastest growing in the country.

This retrospective does well to cement the breathtaking changes in culture, landscape, and society that Manchester has gone through in this last century, a fitting start to Manchester’s new film festival.


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