Best Documentary Movies of 1930
The Silent Enemy
In the Canadian Northwest, the Chippewa tribe struggles to find food before the onset of winter.
With Byrd at the South Pole
With Byrd at the South Pole (1930) is a documentary film about Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his 1st quest to the South Pole beginning at the Little America-Exploration Base. The film's soundtrack consists mostly of music and sound effects, with narration read by Floyd Gibbons. The film won at the 3rd Academy Awards for Best Cinematography.
Close up we see pistons move up and down or side to side. Pendulums sway, the small parts of machinery move. Gears drive larger wheels. Gears within gears spin. Shafts turn some mechanism that is out of sight. Screws revolve and move other gears; a bit rotates. More subtle mechanisms move other mechanical parts for unknown purposes. Weights rise and fall. The movements, underscored by sound, are rhythmic. Circles, squares, rods, and teeth are in constant and sometimes asymmetrical motion. These human-made mechanical bits seem benign and reassuring.
Dance of the Hands
Tilly Losch in Her Dance of the Hands.
Rural Life in Maine
This 12-minute silent film was an amateur film, which seems to have been made just so people would know how hard the folks in Maine work. The film starts off in the morning as these people raise the American flag and then head out to work where they do that all day. By the time the sun goes down we see how hard they work, what they eat and of course the few breaks they get with grandpa on the fiddle. I'm sure many people would be left scratching their heads as to what the point of this film was but it's also important to remember that traveling around wasn't as easy in 1930 as it is today and back then people didn't have two-hundred different television stations. So, in many ways this is an important film because it gives people the chance to see what it was really like working on a farm back in the day.
Autoportrait ou Ce qui manque à nous tous
Mix of surrealist images of bubbles and smoke with some documentation of the world lived by Man Ray and Lee Miller
Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog
Jean Painleve short about an experimental canine surgery.
Early "shockumentary", apparently shot in Egypt, which documents the habits of opium addicts. The interiors of drug dens are shown, and at the conclusion the film an addict is shown collapsing on a sand dune; the booming voice of the narrator informs us that the addict has perished. Footage used is from the silent film Dope Fiends.
Japan in Cherry Blossom Time
A springtime Traveltalk visit to Japan.
This Traveltalk series short takes the viewer to the island nation when it was still a British crown colony and the name Sri Lanka was 40 years in the future.
Explorer Paul Hoefler leads a safari into central Africa and what was then called the Belgian Congo, in the regions inhabited by the Wassara and the famous Ubangi tribes.
A Voyage to Cebu
Travelogue by Andre de la Varre from 1938 that highlights key travel destinations throughout the island of Cebu in the Visayas, in the Philippines.
Cobb Goes Fishing
Humorist Irvin S. Cobb goes fishing with sportswriter Grantland Rice.
A Quaint Little Railway
This short, silent film captures one of Britain's minor little railways: the Leek and Manifold Light Railway on the Staffordshire Moorlands. The railway opened in 1907, linking the villages of Waterhouses and Hulme End, and was built mainly for agricultural traffic, with a passenger service being a secondary consideration. Its route went through beautiful countryside in Staffordshire, and it is unfortunate that the intertitles state it as being shot in Derbyshire.
The Eyes of Science
The optical company Bausch & Lomb of Rochester, New York, contracted Watson and Webber to create this corporate industrial film to showcase the company’s extensive catalog of lenses and other optical instruments, displaying their practical applications in industry and everyday life. The Eyes of Science easily straddles the fields of avant-garde and industrial filmmaking, making both a fascinating object of form and style, as well as a highly educational, entertaining, and informative piece of film and industrial history.
A little bit of Irish laughter, where you'll enjoy a selection of periodic Irish songs in the form of a short film.
Emperor Franz Joseph As Ruler and As a Man
Material shot in 1908-16.
From Stump to Ship
The long log drive: a spring journey down icy streams and rivers moving logs from the forest to the mill for sawing into boards, laths, and clapboards. For more than 150 years, logging techniques remained the same. Men cut trees by hand and loaded them on horse-drawn sleds to be hauled over snow to the river. Skilled river drivers maneuvered the logs downstream, risking their limbs and lives every day. This film survives as a record of the long log business.
Alfama, the Old Lisbon
A documentary on a neighborhood shouldn't limit itself to the coldness of the houses; but reveal the human realism of its life, with all its defects and virtues.
Peas and Cues
Part of BFI collection "Secrets of Nature."
"Strange Birds" is a documentary short made by Mack Sennett for Educational Pictures. It's unusual in that they used an early form of color, 'Sennett Color', a two-color process typical of the era (similar to Cinecolor and Two-Color Technicolor). As far as the film goes, it consists of three folks looking at birds at the newly opened California Aviaries Bird Park on Catalina Island.
Ban Josip Šilovi?
One of the oldest preserved sound film recordings shot in Croatia is a short speech by Ban of the Sava Banovina Josip Šilovi?.
Oxford University Cayman Islands Expedition
Gerald Thompson's record of the 1938 Oxford University Cayman Islands Expedition. The first natural history survey of all three islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) reports were written about the flora, fauna, geology and wetlands.