This video is one of the earliest films of British North Borneo ever recorded that shows how life was in the country.
The film was made by The Charles Urban Trading Company was formed in 1903 by the Anglo-American film producer Charles Urban. It specialised in travel, educational and scientific film.
An advertisement for A Trip through British North Borneo in The Era in January 1907 offered some insights into the production history of the film. It referred to this new series ‘by courtesy of the British North Borneo Company’ and reported that ‘this unique and beautiful subject contains the best photographic results of two expeditions organised and conducted by the Charles Urban Trading Co. Ltd.
The photographs and moving pictures ‘had been instrumental in helping the company to raise during the last few years over £500,000’ (The Times, 7 December 1904)
The footage was also shown on the Twelfth (12th) North Borneo State Dinner in London in 1906 in which they called ‘The Exhibition of Bioscopic Views of North Borneo.’
Here’s the summary and captions of the footage:
Start to 1:22
Opening with a train journey, the film shows views from the train as it passes through a village and crosses a bridge.
1:23 to 2:18
The camera is next on a boat, showing rapids, the jungle, locals on a raft and members of the expedition fording the stream.
2:18 to 4:03
This is followed by scenes of the local industries. Locals quarry for manganese ore, gather rubber from a tree (watched by Europeans) and pick and sort tobacco leaves from the fields. Further scenes reveal locals at a trading post and performing for the camera.
4:04 to end
Next, Chinese convicts collect their food, before a sequence showing a European supervising two locals as they chop a sago palm tree. Once felled, the trunk is sawed off and buffaloes (ridden by locals) haul the logs off screen.
Now watch the video here:
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Image via CharlesUrban.com