13 March 2008

Eisenstein Meets Lionel Britton

Below, I have already provided a link to this wonderful photo, although it clearly merits a more direct viewing. The above scene was taken in 1929, almost certainly at the Film Guild of London on the day that Einsenstein's banned film Battleship Potemkin was shown there (1).

In the foreground, from left to right, are Hans Richter, Mark Segal, -------?, and Len Lye.

At the back, again from left to right, are Irza Britton (?), Sinead Acheson (?), Lionel Britton, Sergei Eisenstein, -------?, Jimmy Rogers, Frederick Edward Towndrow, Basil Wright, and Michael Hankinson.

Of the two unidentified men, it is possible that one is Herbert Marshall (2).

Many thanks to Roger Horrocks for giving me permission to show this photo and for his identification of most of the people in it. It is from Roger's book Len Lye: A Biography (Auckland: University of Auckland Press, 2001).


(1) Lionel Britton was chair of the Film Guild of London, Herbert Marshall the secretary; the studio was in Charing Cross Road in a room that was part of the premises of Foyles bookshop.

(2) The film director Herbert Percival James Marshall (1906–91) – see
filmography – was a student of Eisenstein's for several years, and was a close friend of Britton as well as a great admirer of him. He married the sculptor Fredda Brilliant (1903–99). On Britton's death in 1971, Marshall had all of Britton's literary effects moved to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where Marshall was Professor and Director of Soviet and Eastern European Studies (Performing Arts), and where they remain today. Fredda Brilliant is well known for sculpting Gandhi's statue in Tavistock Square Gardens, London, although she also sculpted a bust of Britton (who called her 'Freddie'); it is not known if the latter has survived.

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