The Mystery of R W Paul

9/02/2017 19:45.
Cert E

Robert W. Paul (1869 – 1943), is one of the major British film pioneers, designing film cameras in the very early days and making many films between 1895 and 1908. Ian Christie, who has been researching him for about 20 years, will screen and discuss a selection of Paul’s work. (Cert E)

Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, London, and a very good friend of ABCD, is Britain’s foremost film academic. He worked for many years at the British Film Institute and has introduced notable British films for us a number of times.

Programme Notes

A presentation by Ian Christie with a selection of films by the most famous British film-maker you have never heard of

Robert W Paul (1869 -1943) was a successful and innovative instrument maker who moved into film-making in the earliest days of the medium. He produced a large number of films between 1895 and 1908 – and then stopped. Why?

Ian Christie has researched Robert Paul and his film work over a number of years and latterly has unearthed new information about his life, as well as some of his forgotten films.

Ian is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, London University and a well known national figure. For example, he is to be heard from time to time discussing recently deceased film industry figures on Radio 4 and regularly contributes to Sight & Sound. He shares an interest with Martin Scorsese in the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and visited us in Abingdon in 1998 and 2012 to introduce their films Black Narcissus (1947) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946). He is the author of Arrows of Desire – Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London, 2002), which has an introduction by Martin Scorsese.

To get a better idea of Ian’s range of interests, visit


  • A wonderful evening – again! Many thanks to Ian Christie
  • Christie’s lively lecture added perspective to the figure who was a major link between Edison and Mieles. Seeing the newly discovered films was a particularly enjoyable and fascinating experience. We look forward to Ian visiting us again soon!
  • Fascinating collection of archive work by an unknown and un-hailed cinema hero
  • An intriguing story
  • Excellent evening!
  • Very interesting
  • More interesting than I expected. Ian’s talk was good and clearly presented
  • I enjoyed the films we saw but would have liked a few more of them and a bit less introduction. Otherwise, very interesting
  • Fascinating but a little too long
  • Badly prepared and organised – chaotic presentation with none of the now common lecture aids, eg laser pointer and remote control


A:22, B:6, C:0, D:1, E:0 to give 92% from 71% of those present.