‘An unlimited field for experiment’
Britain’s stereoscopic landscapes
in British rural landscapes on film
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In the early 1950s, a small group of British technicians and documentary filmmakers produced a series of short stereoscopic 3D films that represented aspects of the British rural and urban landscapes to national and international audiences. These films offered three dimensional views of Manchester’s oil refineries and ship canal, open cast mining in the heart of the English countryside, the development of London airport, and images of the Queen’s coronation journeys to Edinburgh, the Derby and down the Thames. As the first attempts by British filmmakers to represent their native landscapes in three dimensions, these films hoped to draw contemporary audiences in through expansive and immersive views of the sites and landscapes being filmed. This chapter looks specifically at the stereoscopic representation of the rural found in Royal River (1951), Northern Towers (1952), Sunshine Miners (1952), and Vintage ’28 (1953). Through close analysis of the landscapes generated through the stereoscopic effect and the critical reception of these short 3D films, it investigates how these British pioneers redefined the traditional landscape of the social realist documentary through the visual spectacle of three dimensional imagery and composition.

Editor: Paul Newland

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