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Silent Film comes to St Andrews

This week marks the 130th birthday of Charlie Chaplin, a comic actor who rose to fame during the silent film era.

Advert for Chaplin's "City Lights" in The Citizen 1931
Advert for Chaplin’s “City Lights” in The Citizen 1931

Many of his films were shown in St Andrews at the New Picture House (NPH) and adverts for the screenings can be found in our copies of the St Andrews Citizen . You can see the same films (The Kid 1921, The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931) ) now by viewing or borrowing them from the  Library as well as many additional titles such as our multi disc set of Charlie Chaplin: The Little Tramp (1914-1917)

Poster for Charlie Chaplin in The Kid, 1920
CHAPLIN: THE KID, 1920. .Poster for Charlie Chaplin in The Kid.

Over the last few years the Library has been growing its silent film collection. Here are a few of the ways we develop our collections, make our film and documentary collections discoverable, and the facilities available for you to view them.

At the end you’ll find some silent film titles suggested by colleagues in the Library, many of which will be on display on Level 2 of the Library this week.

Building a collection
Items for inclusion in library stock are selected by academic staff, and the majority of the titles in our silent film collection were recommended by staff in the Department of Film Studies. These items not only support their own individual research but also those modules within the Department which focus on silent film, as well as providing an understanding of the history of film and how it has developed over the years.

The Academic Liaison Librarians also consider all the recommendations received from students through our service and add titles to library stock which fit well with our existing collections, or develop them further to support areas of interest.

Helping you discover our collections
You can find all our films and documentaries by using the new Library search. The easiest way to do this is to search for what you are looking for and then narrow down your search by selecting Audiovisual from the formats listed on the left-hand side of the results screen.

Library search - limiting to format audiovisual

Our Cataloguing Team now assign genre headings to each item in the audiovisual collection making it easier to find what you are looking for. On the left-hand side of the results page you’ll see the option to further refine your results by genre.

Library Search - limiting search to a specific genre

If you want to find out more about the items that come up in your results then click on the title. On the record page you’ll often find a summary of the resource and recommendations for other titles. We also include a link through to the Internet Movie Database under each record so you can find out more about the film including the plot, cast, and sometimes a trailer.

Providing you with ways to view our Audiovisual Collection.
Although we are working towards providing more films and documentaries via online streaming we have over 11,000 DVDs and Blu-Rays, many of which are not available online.

We know that not everybody has access to their own DVD player now and some of our items are Reference only so you’ll find 2 DVD players and 1 Blu-Ray player on Level 2 of the Main Library and 1 DVD player in the Microform Room on level 4 of the library if level 2 is too busy. You can also borrow a portable DVD drive from the Service Desk.

Visit our display in the Library to see a selection of our books on silent film as well as some of the DVD titles we have for you to view. Just to get you started here are a few of the DVD titles in our silent film collection:

Poster from the film 'Metropolis' 1927 directed by Fritz Lang.
Poster from the film ‘Metropolis’ 1927. German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia.

The Lost World directed by Harry O. Hoyt

The Dragon Painter directed by William Worthington

Foolish Wives and The Man You Loved to Hate directed by Erich von Stroheim

Make more noise!: suffragettes in silent film with short films directed by Wilfred Noy, Lewin Fitzhamon and Frank Wilson

Inferno directed by Francesco Betrolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe De Liguoro

Fanchon the cricket written and directed by James Kirkwood

Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang

A Trip To The Moon: in its original 1902 colours directed by Georges Méliès

Early Cinema : Primitives and Pioneers

Early Russian cinema. Volume 8 (1912-1916) directed by Iakov Protazanov and Elizaveta Theimann

Pioneers of African-American cinema (1918-1941) curated by Charles Musser and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart

Treasures III : social issues in American film 1900-1934


*Images from Encyclopaedia Britannica ImageQuest. Retrieved 15th April 2019 from

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