The 63rd BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, has announced George Pearson’s LOVE, LIFE AND LAUGHTER (1923) as this year’s Archive Special Presentation.
Lost for nearly a century, this film was on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list and one of its most sought after titles for decades and has now been carefully restored by the team at the BFI National Archive. Its screening at this year’s Festival gives audiences the chance to fall under the spell of Betty Balfour, Britain’s ‘Queen of Happiness’ and the nation’s biggest star of the 1920s.
The presentation will take place at BFI Southbank on Thursday 3rd October, 6.10pm in NFT1 with a live musical accompaniment by Meg Morley as well as an extended introduction by the BFI National Archive’s Silent Curator Bryony Dixon and the BFI’s Film Conservation Manager Kieron Webb.
BFI Head Curator Robin Baker said “All discoveries of lost British films are exciting, but this is among the best. Despite its incompleteness, what survives is full of cinematic richness and a predictably dynamic performance from the UK’s biggest star of the 1920s, Betty Balfour. My colleagues at the BFI National Archive have done an extraordinary job in restoring the film. It’s wonderful to see its original coloured tints glowing on the big screen. Enormous thanks to our colleagues at Eye Filmmuseum for making the discovery and enabling us to bring the film back to audiences almost 100 years after its release.”
LOVE, LIFE AND LAUGHTER tells the story of a pair of working class youngsters with big dreams – a cheery chorus girl and a serious writer – the film toys with our expectations, blurring the boundaries of reverie and reality, tragedy and comedy. The films aesthetic is extremely evocative of the period, full of Art Deco styling from the overall design to Balfour’s costumes and the film’s set pieces. This restoration is a major event enabling today’s audiences to enjoy a truly vivacious performance from Balfour in one of her key films and adds to our knowledge of director Pearson, often likened to Dickens (whom he admired) for his ability to wring the maximum amount of emotion out of a story and a key figure in British cinema with now only a bare handful of his films survive.
LOVE, LIFE AND LAUGHTER was restored by BFI National Archive at L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna with the collaboration of EYE Filmmuseum, and was supported by the Eric Anker-Petersen Charity.