Scarlet Macaw on perch, medium shot, 1902.
(Credit: National Media Museum)
The UK National Media Museum has uncovered what it believes to be the world's first colour motion pictures, shot in 1901 and predating Kinemacolor by eight years.
They were created by inventor and photographer Edward Turner, who died of a heart attack at the age of 29 in 1903, before he could see what his creation inspired — even though at the time, his technique was considered a failure.
The films — including that of a Scarlet Macaw, his daughter Agnes May on a swing, his children playing with sunflowers, soldiers marching in Hyde Park, London, and a goldfish in a bowl — were shot through three coloured filters — red, blue and green — which coloured what were previously thought to be black-and-white films.
Turner developed his process with the support of US businessman Charles Urban, who donated the films to the British Science Museum in 1937. There, they languished until being handed to the National Media Museum three years ago, where curator Michael Harvey immediately recognised the film as Turner's work and decided to try and restore the film using Turner's own processes.
The results can be seen in the video below — proving that Turner was right all along and, according to National Media Museum head of collections Paul Goodman, is set to "rewrite film history".