Charles Urban

Pioneering the Non-Fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897-1925

Luke McKernan

Charles Urban

Luke McKernan

Distributed for University of Exeter Press

256 pages | 25 halftones | 6 x 9 1/5
Cloth $110.00 ISBN: 9780859898829 Published August 2013 For sale in North and South America only
Charles Urban: Pioneering the Non-Fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897-1925 is the 2014 winner of the Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award.
Charles Urban examines the career and legacy of the eponymous Anglo-American film producer. Urban is a well known and crucial figure in early film history for his development of Kinemacolor, the world’s first successful natural color moving picture system. But Urban’s influence was even more far-reaching, according to Luke McKernan. As McKernan reveals, Urban’s deep belief in film as an educational tool led him to become an innovator of wartime propaganda.  Based in material found in Urban’s own papers and a deep knowledge of early film, Luke McKernan has put together an accessible, exciting, and informative biography .  

List of Illustrations




1 ‘That Slick Salesman in the Silk Hat’

2 We Put the World Before You

3 The Eighth Wonder of the World

4 The Motion Picture Object Lesson for America

5 The Living Book of Knowledge



Select Bibliography


Review Quotes
Eric J. Iannelli | Times Literary Supplement
“It has taken Urban’s champion the better part of a century to arrive. The wait would seem to have been worth it. . . . McKernan shows himself to be a diligent and impartial scholar. . . . [Urban’s ] accomplishments and his philosophy have found an excellent channel in McKernan.”
Stephen Bottomore | Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television
"This is a fine and much needed book, and deserves to have a wide readership. It tells the story of Charles Urban, an important pioneer of both non-fiction and colour films, and also has much to say about the silent cinema and documentary film in general. . . . McKernan steers us through with a sure hand, writing concisely and engagingly. . . . Exeter have done their usual quality job, so this is built to last. Undoubtedly, the volume deserves to be on the shelves of every cinémathèque and research library in the world."
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