The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn

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Arts, Technology Documentary hosted by Veronika Hyks, published by BBC in 2009 - English narration

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The Wonderful World of Albert Khan

In 1908, the French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn launched one of the most ambitious projects in the history of photography. A pacifist, internationalist and utopian idealist, Kahn decided to use his private fortune to improve understanding between the nations of the world. To this end, he created what he called his Archive of the Planet. For the next two decades, he dispatched professional photographers to document the everyday lives of people in more than 50 countries all around the world. Kahn's wealth enabled him to supply his photographers with the most advanced camera technology available. They used the autochrome - the first user-friendly camera system capable of producing true-colour photographs.

[edit] A Vision of the World

This programme tells the story of Albert Kahn, and the invention of the autochrome, the camera system that made colour photography possible and shows the pictures Kahn's photographers shot in 1913, when they made their first visit to London, Cornwall and Ireland.

[edit] Men of the World

This programme tells the story of two of the most ambitious of all the early global expeditions undertaken by the project - the circumnavigation of the globe by Albert
Kahn and his chauffeur Alfred Dutertre in 1908-9 (in which they visited the USA, Japan and China); and the epic 1913 journey by one of Kahn's photographers, Stephane Passet, to China, Mongolia and India.

[edit] Europe on the Brink

This programme tells the story of Kahn's photographer Auguste Leon visit to Scandinavia in 1910, finding widespread deprivation and even famine. He also journeyed to Italy in 1913, and then to the Balkans, where he recorded the increasing volatility in Europe.

[edit] The Soldiers Story

During the First World War, Kahn dispatched his photographers to the battlefields, where they recorded in detail the everyday lives of French troops fighting on the Western Front. This programme shows the images they captured as they journeyed through Eastern France.

[edit] The Civilians Story

Throughout The Great War, Kahn's photographers travelled throughout France, documenting the impact of the conflict on non-combatants in the towns and villages of their homeland. Using the striking images captured by Kahn's photographers, this programme looks at the hardship and heroism of the French population living near the front lines of the conflict.

[edit] Europe after the Fire

Series examining Albert Kahn's ambitious Archives of the Planet project, in which he sent photographers, armed with the world's first user-friendly colour photographic system, around the world to document all aspects of human life. When the Armistice was signed in November 1918, Kahn's team photographed the scenes of jubilation in Paris as they witnessed the negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference and recorded the horrifying aftermath of four years of war.

[edit] Middle East the Birth of Nations

The First World War led to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and its former provinces came under the control of France and Britain. Albert Kahn's cameras were there to record the establishment of new nations.

[edit] Far East Expeditions to Empires

Between 1914 and 1928, Kahn sent some of his most talented photographers to the Far East. In Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan, they produced a compelling photographic record of economic and cultural life, subsistence industries, and ceremonial practices, and produced a fascinating portrait of the life of a wealthy Maharajah in India during the British Raj.

[edit] The End of a World

This programme in the series shows the films shot by Kahn's cameraman Lucien Le Saint who joined the French fishing fleets in Newfoundland, the film and colour autochromes shot by Frederic Gadmer who recorded Voodoo religious practices in Benin and the experimental colour films produced by Camille Sauvageot in 1928, depicting the lives of farmers, Gypsies and bullfighters in France, and Kahn’s
demise: once one of the richest men in Europe, he died

[edit] Japan in Colour

Some of the most important of all the 72,000 colour images in Kahn's Archive were shot during three separate visits (in 1908, 1912 and 1926) to Japan. As an international financier, Kahn had established a network of contacts that included some of the most prominent members of Japan's business, banking and political elites. Consequently, Kahn's photographers were granted privileged access to places that would have otherwise been off limits - including some of the royal palaces, where they shot colour portraits of the princes and princesses from Japan's Imperial family. But some of their most fascinating images capture moments from the lives of ordinary Japanese people at work and play. This film showcases Kahn's treasury of films and autochromes of silk-farmers, Shinto monks, schoolchildren, porcelain merchants, Kabuki stars and geishas - pictures that were recorded at a time when this fascinating country was going through momentous changes.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: XviD ISO MPEG-4
  • Video Bitrate: 1827 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 704 x 400
  • Video Aspect Ratio: (16:9)
  • Frames Per Second: 25
  • Audio Codec: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3)
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
  • Audio Streams: 2
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Per Part: 50mins
  • Number Of Parts: 10
  • Part Size: 700 MB
  • Source: DVD
  • Encoded by: Harry65

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