The Open Road
The Open Road captures Claude Friese-Greene’s journey around 1920s Britain by car using his own experimental colour film process.
Claude continued the work of his father, cinema pioneer William Friese-Greene, and marketed his “new all British Friese-Greene natural colour process” through a 26-part travelogue of Britain, reaching from Lands End to John O’Groats. The colour was captured on black and white film by means of a disc of coloured filters which rotated in front of the camera. Once processed the images on the film were alternately tinted red or blue/green. When projected at a higher than usual speed a perception of colour was achieved.
The process was deeply flawed – distracting colour fringing on fast moving objects, and contemporary developments with early versions of Technicolor and other systems soon rendered it obsolete. And yet this restored version, using modern digital technology, brings the beauty of Friese-Greene’s photography to light.
The BFI/BBC co-production The Lost World of Friese-Greene, shown in 2006, followed Claude’s steps and tracked down some of the people and places shown in the film.