Image and Identity in the Caribbean
A Documentary film about British Pathé in the Caribbean 1920-70
National Film Theatre 2
Thursday 25 October 6pm
Introduction by Paul Gilroy
The South Bank Centre
020 7633 0274
Mirror to the Soul is a new 2-hour documentary film about the
Caribbean, which is made up entirely of footage from British Pathé
newsreels (short news pieces of two or three minutes in length) that
were filmed during the period 1922-1970.
The film presents many aspects of Caribbean life – from banana
plantations to Voodoo ceremonies, Calypsonians to revolutionaries.
As well as an insight into aspects of West Indian life, the film also
allows us to see how a private British film company presented a
constructed Caribbean identity to the outside world. Consequently the
film tells us as much about British society and its own identity and
values – especially in regard to attitudes towards its then colonies – as it
does those of the Caribbean itself.
The relationship between the Caribbean and Britain is also explored
through items and footage of the onward diaspora of West Indians to
the ‘motherland’, including the arrival of Windrush in 1948, racial
troubles and more.
The film is not just limited to the relationship between Britain and the
Caribbean, documenting the changing relationship between a number
of islands and their protectors or enemies – such as, for instance, Cuba
and the USA – with footage from the Cuban revolution onwards.
Similarly the scope of the film includes footage of Venezuela, Belize,
Colombia and Florida, USA – which form the wider Caribbean region,
rather than just the West Indies islands themselves.
British Pathé was established in London in 1910 to make newsreels
which were screened in cinemas throughout Britain before main
features. In the 1950s, to compete with the new medium of television,
Pathé began adding entertainment, cultural and educational stories to
add to its hard news items. Pathé stopped production in 1970
accumulating over 3,500 hours of documentary history.
Directed by Stuart Baker
Edited by Dan Crouch
020 7734 3341