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Lights, Camera, London! - Celebrating the capital on film at London Film Museum

Lughts, Camera, London

Preview by Jack Foley

LONDON has been a source of fascination for at least 300 years, and for over a hundred of these its moving image has attracted audiences around the world.

Indeed London was one of the cities where moving pictures began, in the 1890s, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee provided the new entertainment medium with its earliest global box-office success in 1897.

This exhibition is the first since the Museum of London’s pioneering London on Film (1996) to show how London has been the setting – and often the star – of films for over a century.

Using extracts and stills, together with rare costumes and props, Lights, Camera, London! reveals the range of what Samuel Johnson called ‘the wonderful immensity of London’.

Sections are devoted to the capital’s diverse communities and to its working life, including the once-famous markets, which can now only be seen on film. London’s leading role in music and fashion during the Sixties is celebrated, alongside the writers whose careers it made, from Shakespeare to Dickens and Wilde.

Heroic images of London’s survival during World War II contrast with apocalyptic fantasies of the city being destroyed, while ‘Gaslight’ and ‘Underworld’ sections evoke the most popular images of the Victorian city, with its sinister secrets, and the long tradition of London criminals and the detectives who pursue them.

Two of the most popular of all London genres are British monarchs, appearing in public and imagined in their private lives, and the distinctive humour of Londoners, both well represented in Lights, Camera London!

So too is London’s continuing involvement in filmmaking, and in the new technologies of sound and image as a centre of post-production.

The exhibition is supported by a host of rare costumes and artefacts, including Ron Moody’s original hat and fingerless gloves that he wore as Fagin in Oliver (1968).

We can’t fit it all in of course, but the new London Film Museum in Covent Garden provides an outstanding location to display the highlights of London’s screen history, and its vibrant present.

Lights, Camera, London! is FREE to enter and opens to the public on December 21, 2012, and will be on display at the London Film Museum Covent Garden throughout 2013.

To find out more, visit the website