Bfi Unearth Lost British Masterpiece

Art & Culture

It's been a big day for discoveries. As we reported earlier, a memory stick full of lost Aphex Twin recordings have show up in Spain, whilst the British Film Institute have just announced that the much sought silent classic Love, Life and Laughter has shown up in a tiny cinema in Holland. The 1923 British production has been long thought lost, and was included on the 'most wanted' list the institute published to commemorate it's 75th anniversary. Now, the Dutch Film Museum, EYE, have discovered a print whilst cataloguing their archives. It had been part of the collection of a small, defunct cinema, given to EYE in 2012.

Directed by George Pearson, and starring Bettie Balfour, the most popular English actress of her time, it was considered a masterpiece by contemporary reviewers. The Telegraph insisted that it was “destined in all probability to take its place among the screen classics”, while the Manchester Guardian considered it “certainly the most ambitious [of Pearson’s films], spectacular at times, lit and photographed with a beauty to dream of,” concluding, “devotees have called it George Pearson’s masterpiece, and so it is.”.

"Pearson’s skill as a director and script writer was likened to that of Dickens (whom he admired) for his ability to wring the maximum amount of emotion out of a story." Writes the BFI, "Love, Life and Laughter is the story of Tip-Toes (Balfour), a chorus girl in a garret who befriends a lonely young boy who dreams of being a writer, while she dreams of being a music-hall star. They agree to meet at midnight in two years’ time in their slum tenement to see which their dreams has come true."

Information on future screenings can be found on the BFI website.