We thought we’d seen it all, however Charles Dickens fans are in for a small, minute-long treat as a new film has been discovered from back in the day, based on one of his characters.
This early film is entitled The Death of Poor Joe, and would you believe it – poor Joe is 111 years old. That is, it was filmed way back in March 1901, making this the oldest Dickens film of all time. It was unearthed by the curator of the British Film Institute, Bryony Dixon, who accidentally found the footage as she was carrying out research. Before this find, the Dickens classics of Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost had been the earliest known films from the writer. Hopefully the Ghost of Christmas Past won’t come looking for revenge…
The Death of Poor Joe is based on Dickens’ Bleak House, taking inspiration from the crossing-sweeper character of Joe and showing him dying in the snow by a wall. It lay unnoticed in an archive for half a century, however now the light, as well as thousands of YouTube views, has firmly been shone on this old piece of Dickens-ness.
The black and white silent film is one minute long and is in surprisingly good condition considering its age. Rather conveniently, this unique discovery falls in the year of Dickens’ 200th birthday, and it will be screened as part of these celebrations today and on 23rd March at London’s BFI Southbank.