Came the dawn : memories of a film pioneer (1951)

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Although I invented the 'Vivaphone' I never really liked it. I had said all along that it was easy to do and not worth doing, for at the best it could only be a sort of disreputable ghost of what 'talking pictures' would certainly become in due course. But I was overruled by the business interests, in the shape of Manager Parfrey, who had his finger on the pulse of things more closely than I had, and I am bound to admit that from that point of view he was undoubtedly right. For out of it we made a lot of money which was available for worthier purposes. Incidentally, the principle of the 'Vivaphone,' after the thing itself was dead, was used very greatly to improve the technical quality of an important device in the making of one type of picture which we came upon later. This I will deal with in its proper place, for I am still trying to be true to my promise of chronolo- gical sequence. And in that order, I must apologise for having been a little premature in according to the news-reel people all responsibility for every future picture of news interest. For almost immediately we came to one which was of so much national importance that we were bound to serve it with all the skill and devotion at our command. If this was to be our swan-song so far as news was concerned it was a really worthy effort. It is safe to say that for beauty of photography and vital interest it remained unbeaten for many years. It was The Funeral of King Edward VII on May 20th, 1910. I took my camera, with Stanley Faithfull to help me, to Windsor Station to photograph the arrival of the funeral train with all that marvellous assembly of English and foreign mourners— all the very numerous crowned heads of Europe. It was a very remarkable sight and the film, taken in perfect weather, does full justice to it. I am glad indeed that I have a copy of it in my possession still. There were very many more crowned heads in Europe then than there are today or, I suppose, ever will be again. And most of the people there then must be dead by now. The Prince of Wales, a young slip of a lad, walks just behind the German Emperor, and the kings of nearly all the countries on our side of the world are there in full state. Geoffrey Faithfull had another camera in London where the procession passed near Marlborough House and secured an equally valuable picture. Between us, and with the help of unusually fine weather, we set a standard for the news-reel people which must have taken them a long time to surpass. 105