British Pathé and other online film archives: Christmas film footage from the past

By Rachel Hayward | 03 December 2009
Screenshot showing child looking at clown toy in a shop

(Above) All I want for Christmas... sit back and enjoy the delights of Christmases past with British Pathé and other online film archive footage. Screenshot courtesy British Pathé

Why not take a cinematic journey into Christmases past this winter with some of the free Yuletide footage on British Pathé and other online film archives?

Screenshot showing black and white film clip of three men dressed as the wise men visiting Austrian houses as part of Christmas house blessing tradition

(Left) All I want for Christmas... sit back and enjoy the delights of Christmas pasts with British Pathé and other online film archive footage. Screenshot courtesy British Pathé

British Pathé, the world's first digital news archive, covers news, sport, social history and entertainment from 1896 – 1970.

There are some Christmas film treats on the site including footage called Bless This House (1935). It covers the Austrian custom of house blessing on Twelfth Night (January 6) when three men, dressed as the three wise men would go from house to house armed with a frying pan of incense.

Screenshot showing BFI film website with early black and white film stills of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge as the central character

(Right) Bah! Humbug! See A Christmas Carol, the earliest surviving adaptation of Dickens' work on film. Screenshot courtesy BFI

Discover the BFI's (British Film Institute) free films in the Creative Archives. The Creative Archive pages feature video clips made available for free download to users in the UK under the Creative Archive Licence.

Don't forget screenonline with video footage from the BFI National Archive's collections specially for registered users in secondary and further education.

Screenshot showing black and white film clip of a wartime family enjoying their Christmas celebrations and playing with a tea set in their front room

(Right) Christmas in the 1940s. Screenshot courtesy Yorkshire Film Archive Online

Yorkshire Film Archive also has a great online Christmas film selection in its YFA Online – its interactive moving image website which you can also access for free. It is a clickable link from the home page. Browse by subject, theme and decade. We particularly liked the Christmas Compilation (1947) showing the family celebrations of the Mandiwall family in the 1940s and the stop motion animation techniques featured in Winter Wonderland Fantasy (1958).

Yorkshire film archive also has a dedicated YFA Online Learning section for education practitioners and is specially designed for educational use. Again, just follow the link from the Yorkshire Film Archive home page.

Screenshot showing website page with thumbnail images from 20th century black and white archive film

(Left) Screen South East has a variety of Christmas related film footage in its archives. Screenshot courtesy Screen South East

Screen Archive South East has more festive delights for you including a Christmas Cruise to Africa no less.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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